Saturday, October 17, 2009

Film Review: THE CARD PLAYER (2004, Dario Argento)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 104 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Music by Claudio Simonetti. Starring Stefania Rocca (GO GO TALES, MARY), Liam Cunningham (HUNGER, THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY).
Tag-line: "A serial killer with a vice for Video Poker." Great tag-line, guys.
Best one-liner: Not really.

What if I told you that a movie exists where the denouement involves the villain strapping a woman to some train tracks with a laptop and forcing her to play online poker?




I'm pretty sure your response would be: 'So wait, did Dario write the screenplay all by himself, or did he have help?' Well, to answer your question, it's a collaboration with Franco Ferrini and a couple others. The movie itself is neither good nor bad. Well, I guess it's pretty bad. Though in comparison to his follow-up, DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK?, it's practically a SUSPIRIA. In reality, it's several large notches below TRAUMA, and a few below SLEEPLESS. But that doesn't mean it's without entertainment value. The biggest problem is that everyone involved is trying too hard to make something normal: Simonetti's score is a far cry from the Goblin days, the film's closer in feel to CSI or THE BOURNE IDENTITY than PHENOMENA or TENEBRE, there's no Asia Argento despite a role that was tailor-made for her, and, I gotta say, NOT having bad dubbing hurts the film.

Poor man's Asia.

Sure, I guess this is sleazy enough, but why isn't it bathed in red light?

But what is with these post-2000 horror films needing to insert technology's flavor-of-the-month to appear hip? It's like what I've heard about the new Freddy reboot where now, of course, the Elm Street kids research Freddy on the Internet, and there's all sorts of references to texting and crap. Somehow a killer is far less ominous when he's sending you emails, instructing you how to log onto instant messenger so that you can play him at online poker, and sending you printouts of digital photos of his victims. Why don't we redo SORRY, WRONG NUMBER with texting? That would make it so much more accessible.

Seriously, what is this?

Mostly, it's for Argento completists and online poker enthusiasts. Otherwise, take a deep breath and rent OPERA or TRAUMA instead.

-Sean Gill

2009 Halloween Countdown

31. PROM NIGHT (1980, Paul Lynch)
30. PHENOMENA (1985, Dario Argento)
29. HOUSE OF WAX (1953, André de Toth)
28. SILENT RAGE (1982, Michael Miller)
27. BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)
26. THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983, Douglas McKeown)
25. PELTS (2006, Dario Argento)
24. ANGEL HEART (1987, Alan Parker)
23. KILLER WORKOUT (1986, David A. Prior)
22. FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991, Rachel Talalay)
21. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Robert Fuest)
20. FRANKENHOOKER (1990, Frank Henenlotter)
19. HELLRAISER (1987, Clive Barker)
18. GEEK MAGGOT BINGO (1983, Nick Zedd)
17. ALLIGATOR (1980, Lewis Teague)
16. LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN (1971, Lucio Fulci)
15. THE CARD PLAYER (2004, Dario Argento)

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