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MOTHER OF TEARS
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Dario Argento

Starring:
Asia Argento
Udo Kier
Daria Nicolodi
Moran Atias

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Sarah (Asia Argento) works at Rome's Museum of Ancient Art, and one day receives some peculiar ancient artifacts. Together with her co-worker she opens the package and unleashes something that's definitely not good for the Roman populace: Mater Lacrimarum, the Mother of Tears, awakens from her lengthy nap and decides to bring about the Second Age of Witches. Now, Sarah must use her psychic hand-me-down powers to do some witch ass-kicking.

Is it good movie?

As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait (just as Red Sox fans). Unfortunately, for Dario Argento and his conclusion to his THREE MOTHERS trilogy, it just doesn't work that way. MOTHER OF TEARS is not the film fans were hoping for, and it's the latest entry in an unfortunate line of Argento films that makes you wonder if the master is losing his touch.

Don't get me wrong, Dario Argento is a master of the horror genre. Heck, there's a reason why he was included in the MASTERS OF HORROR series. Problem is, MOTHER OF TEARS ends up being a campy and pale imitation of past Argento greatness that is so unintentionally funny it's aggravating.

Gone is the great Argento directing of old, replaced with something that tries to ape what an Argento film should feel like. Almost no use of vibrant colours, no art design eye candy, just a subdued and mediocre effort. Heck, one scene (a taxi ride through Rome) tries to mimic a similar scene from INFERNO, but can't come close to matching the intensity of the predecessor.

Acting-wise, everything feels uneven (which is a good way to describe the film overall). Asia Argento, who is usually quite good, has problems playing vulnerable. The scene with her longing for her dead mother is a prime example. Bottom line, Asia is better when she's playing it tough. Daria Nicolodi, a great staple of past Argento films, is reduced to a lame ghost character. Heck, Udo Kier isn't safe from the uneven acting virus.

But probably the worst thing about MOTHER OF TEARS is, as I said before, the inconsistency of the whole thing. The pacing is worse than amateur hour for handjobs, subplots that go nowhere (Sarah's mystic powers), a lame story, and probably the worst thing about the film being that the instances which do go right (such as the fantastic gore effects), are ultimately lost in the mess.

Whether Dario was waiting for the right script/cast/crew to come along, or the fact that he wanted to go back to the proverbial well that made him so great in the first place while not completely rehashing himself, MOTHER OF TEARS is a disappointing conclusion to the THREE MOTHERS trilogy. Those fans who loved the dream-like atmosphere and the great visual stylings of his older works will be up in arms over what's become of Argento now, whereas more casual horror fans will wonder just what was so great about this old guy in the first place. A shame, indeed.

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the video is excellent (despite the lacking of Argento signatures). There's some ringing to the picture (especially when it comes to a backstory sequence told via static black-and-white drawings), but overall, the print is saturated nicely without any major complaints.

Audio: The English Dolby Digitial 5.1 track, like the video, is also great. Dario's always been a big user of aural cues in his films, and here it's no different. Despite some noticeable dubbings of some characters, this is a clean, crisp mix.

The Extras

First up is The Making Of Mother Of Tears, which is a decent 30 minutes. Consisting mostly of standard cast and crew interviews coupled with some behind-the-scenes footage, there's an obvious feeling of something lacking, though it's probably because Dimension realized what they had on their hands here.

Next is a 7-minute interview with Argento entitled A Conversation With Legendary Filmmaker Dario Argento. In the interview, Dario drops hints that since he enjoyed himself so much making MOTHER OF TEARS, that from 'the suggestion from a friend', he may do another film revolving around the THREE MOTHERS trilogy (perhaps a prequel). Here's hoping that if the plan does go through that the results are much better than what we have here. Other than that, the interview is rather bittersweet, given the fact that Dario made something like this and is so passionate about it that you almost want to feel sorry for not liking it. Almost.

Topping off the sparse extras are the U.S. trailer and Italian trailer for the film.

Last Call

There's a good reason why this film opened to pretty good numbers in Italy, only to drop 80% in its second weekend. Instead of giving fans a satisfying conclusion to the THREE MOTHERS trilogy, MOTHER OF TEARS feels like an attempt to recapture old glories while at the same time moving farther from what made Argento's films so great in the first place. Rent it for the gore and the skin, but anything else is really a waste.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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