Canada. Directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, 2014. Starring Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Paz de la Huerta, Samantha Hill. 95 minutes. 6/10
Ah, giallo! Who among us does not revere that elegant Italian art form, that rapturous combination of lush cinematography, lurid sex, black-gloved hands holding straight-razors, and poor English-language dubbing? The giallo revival, which has given us films such as Amer and Sonno Profondo and influenced the likes of Berberian Sound Studio, has progressed to the point where parody is now possible. Enter Astron-6, the Canadian wiseasses responsible for Manborg and Father’s Day.
Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once the world’s greatest film editor, but a gruesome accident with a splicer cost him several fingers, his reputation, and his sanity. Having recovered from a nervous breakdown, he’s now a shadow of his former self, reduced to working on sleazy grindhouse pictures. When the actors on his latest project turn up murdered, police detective Peter Porfiry (Matthew Kennedy) fingers him as the number one suspect. Can Ciso prove his innocence and expose the real killer? Or is Detective Porfiry right after all?
Brooks and Kennedy, who also co-wrote (with actor Conor Sweeney) and co-directed The Editor, have crafted a film largely immune to criticism. They have re-created a particular style of film from a bygone era, the kind they really don’t make anymore. (All the neo-gialli I’ve seen are largely artsy stylistic exercises–they may look like the real deal but they certainly don’t feel it.) The flaws–poor acting, incoherent narrative–are deliberate; if The Editor can be described as “bad” then it is certainly by design. And how do you review something intended to be bad?
Despite my bluster and bombast three paragraphs ago, I have always been a bit iffy on giallo. I’m not opposed to it but neither am I an enthusiast. They sound awesome when I hear about them but then I actually see one and can’t help but be let down. I’m not really the movie’s target audience.
That’s not to say that it didn’t elicit a few laughs–for example, whenever the dialog is particularly awkward (“I am in our home!” Ciso calls to his wife when he gets home from work), or on those occasions when someone spots a “cigarette burn” on the film. Udo Kier, Tristan Risk, and Laurence R. Harvey do what they do best in their minor roles, and while Paz de la Huerta’s acting hasn’t improved since…ever…here it’s actually an asset, not a liability.
Ultimately, then, The Editor is one of those films you either get or you don’t. If you prefer to spend your evenings curled up watching a Bava or an Argento, make a beeline for this one (assuming you haven’t already). On the other hand, if you don’t know your giallo from a hole in the ground, this is probably not the place to start.