The Stendhal Syndrome

on September 11, 1996 by Tim Cogshell
   Though Dario Argento might have served the cinematic arts better by staying with the Hitchcockian thrillers of his early career like 1970's "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage," his horror classics--beginning with 1977's "Suspiria"--have left an indelible impression on the genre. Argento films are designed to shock using the opposite technique of Hitchock, leaving nothing to the imagination and taking viewers into the heart of the gore. Though the horror in Argento's films is usually hyper-realistic, it's often couched in the most horrifyingly real scenarios featuring stalkers and rapists.
   "The Stendhal Syndrome" is an unsuccessful hybrid of Argento's thrillers and horror films. The story involves a police detective, Anna ("B. Monkey's" Asia Argento), who's hunting a sadistic rapist and serial killer. In the process, she finds the darkest side of herself. The story bogs down, but Asia (the director's daughter) has the presence of a darkly drawn Uma Thurman and gives a solid performance in what is an otherwise flawed film.    Starring Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschman and Luigi Diberti. Directed by Dario Argento. Written by Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini. Produced by Dario Argento and Giuseppe Colombo. A Troma Release. Horror. Rated R for graphic violence and sexual situations. Running time: 88 min.
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