Mother of Tears (DVD)

It’s been a damn long time in coming, but Mother of Tears is the third part in Dario Argento’s Mother trilogy — the last one was the colourfully weird Inferno, back in 1980, with the first instalment being the classic 1977 Argento outing, Suspiria. The movie starts with an ancient urn being discovered in an old cemetery in Rome. Sent by a priest to a local museum, where Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) works, it is opened by an over-enthusiastic curator. This unleashes a plague of murder, rape and chaos across Rome, as witches from all over the world flock to the city to welcome the return of Mater Lachrymarum (The Third Mother) and a new age of witches.

Italian horror has always had a penchant for dealing in witchcraft, demonology and the depravity men and women are capable of (with or without the aforementioned influences) which certainly gives it a depth of subject matter, if not always presentation. So with that in mind, this is a very welcome return to one of the classic horror forms, which thankfully, this hasn’t been diluted by an obviously bigger special-effects budget. Asia Argento does a pretty good job as the lead (what must the bedtime stories have been like in the Argento household?) although some of the other characters are less convincing and aren’t helped by a slightly clunky script and a rather disappointing ending. While the film excels in the depiction of rituals, sadism, paganism and both white and dark magic, it’s not always particularly convincing when it tries to mix that with the real world. All the "modern" witches that flock to Rome largely look the same — ie, pretty Goths and Emos who cackle hysterically all the time and stand around on street corners looking moody. The result is amusing, rather than disturbing.

The lack of any notable extras is a glaring omission. Argento’s career spans more than 40 years and has influenced many directors, so you think the man would have a few things to say. Despite this, Mother of Tears is a still real tonic to the two-a-penny gorenography and teen-slasher outings. Not that it isn’t without its own share of gore — in fact, on that level it’s actually much more disturbing and stomach-churning than anything the splat-pack have come up with recently — something that should attract a whole new audience. Good old Uncle Dario, show 'em how it should be done!

EXTRAS A trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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