DEAD BRIDE ** Italy 2022 Dir: Francesco Picone. 83 mins
Italian Horror should be more than the works of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci. How does one compete with icons? Well the answer for me is that you don’t. The long shadows of these and others cannot help to be thought of in Italian genre cinema. One just has to look at Argento’s Dark Glasses (2022) aka Occhiali neri to see that even a Master still has it in a slightly different form. A new example is Dead Bride (2022) by Writer-Director Francesco Picone who shows us that some in the genre are still learning.
Dead Bride (2022) is as the country of origins language would say, a ‘vasto assortimento’ of familiar genre situations that are well photographed and populated by sluggishly paced people. The pace I found out was due to English dubbing of the actors that I believe would not have made a difference as the story is routine. I would have preferred subtitles however perhaps that was not the market the filmmakers were trying to get to.
Dead Bride (2022) features moments from The Exorcist (1973), Poltergeist (1982), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Amityville Horror (1979), and The People Under the Stairs (1991) with people saying well-pronounced dialogue. Dead Bride (2022) is the second feature for Francesco Picone that suffers from the same as his first full-length film the zombie world rampage Age Of The Dead (2015) aka Anger Of The Dead. There is nothing new in the form of moments just clichés making the picture a learning experience for the director to work in the world of film.
The picture story is about Alyson (Jennifer Mischiati) and her husband Insurance businessman Richard (Christoph Hülsen), who have had a baby boy that goes by the odd Biblical name of Seth (Hebrew meaning: A child sent to heal heartbreak) after the prerequisite infidelity by Richard. Seems you must pay for out-of-wedlock sex even in a non-slasher film these days. The family has moved into Alyson’s family estate home. In the home you get flashbacks as a child Alyson suffered abuse from her crazy mother and, after her mom’s death, was sent by her father to an orphanage. The father later committed suicide allowing the couple to inherit the grounds.
Naturally or supernaturally Alyson and the family are subjected to weird sights, sounds, and visitations including pulling clumps of hair that are not hers out of a plugged bathroom sink. It is later revealed that one of Alyson’s ancestors was murdered by her husband as a pregnant new bride hence the film title. The victim made a deal with arch-demon Asmodeus who has a cursed family, no longer skeptical, Richard brings in an occultist to help save their own little child. The film then becomes a romp to enter the spirit world to save Seth who has been taken as in Poltergeist (1982). One of the people shouts ‘Don’t look at the light’ in a bathed white light bedroom.
The gore, the demons, and the genuine slimy evil atmosphere are replaced by understated effects which work for some yet also show that the film had a limited budget. Lovingly photographed in Giallo style with not a bottle of J &B Rare whiskey or even a Campari in sight, loses effectiveness along with the sex, sudden brutality, and nudity.
Jennifer Mischiati as Alyson and Christoph Hülsen as Richard clunk along all suffering from great sounding yet hollow voices with the usual suspects for being menaced circulate around them. The religious people in the film are called in to help fair better with the dubbing with Douglas Dean as a Demonologist Dave Owen (Yes that’s the name) having the look and slight vocals of Donald Pleasence.
Dead Bride (2022) is a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be or what story it wants to tell. Viewers may find themselves miffed with pacing, especially in the long descent into the Demon world moments. Misplaced since these quiet moments are meant to accent the shock moments of which there are none except for the naive. It is a shame since it is unfair to not be working in a language you may not be all familiar with and this is not the first film to suffer poor translation.
Dead Bride (2022) lacks the thrills of the genre it is trying to be in by minimizing them to cliché moments wasting some pretty people and good photography.
Review by Terry Sherwood