Finally, after 27 years since the release of Inferno, Dario Argento gifted horror cinema the third and final entry into the Mothers trilogy: Mother Of Tears. Like Suspiria and Inferno, Mother Of Tears is a film that’s full to the brim with imagery based around witch mythology. However, this time around, Mother Of Tears showcases a plethora of occult imagery, black magic and demonic beings. Stylistically, however, Mother Of Tears is a film that’s completely different to its predecessors: Suspiria and Inferno. Mother Of Tears is so far removed from the previous entries, it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the Mothers trilogy at all, as Mother Of Tears lacks a lot of the style that personified the previous entries, making them stand out from Dario Argento’s usual repertoire.
Firstly, I have to ask a personal question addressing Dario Argento: what happened? Granted, his talents were growing weaker and weaker after 1987’s Terror At The Opera, but I would think that for the long awaited finale to two of his most legendary films, Dario Argento would return to the old, nostalgic style that made his previous works so iconic. Instead, Mother Of Tears contains none of Dario Argento’s iconic style. His beautiful cinematography, colourful lighting, suspenseful sequences, detailed sets, subtle writing, all of these techniques have been completely removed in favor of generic cinematography, lifeless lighting, CGI effects, ridiculously over the top sequences and an overabundance of gratuitous violence, gratuitous even by Dario Argento film standards.
Subtlety and subtext, two things that personified Suspiria and Inferno, are completely missing in Mother Of Tears. Mother Of Tears pays more attention to disturbingly brutal sequences of death and violence instead of creating an interesting mystery or a deep mythology. Worst of all, the story of Mother Of Tears is one that is completely chaotic, overly cruel and rather hard to grasp. There’s definitely a protagonist and an antagonist, but the story feels more like a continuous string of incidental events than a carefully woven plot that evolves with every scene. The film contains no character development, no focus, no coherence, no atmosphere, no suspense and an atrocious ending that leaves too many unanswered questions.
As a result, Mother Of Tears doesn’t resemble a Dario Argento film, it resembles a film that could be made by any two bit independent film-maker with a decent effects budget and computer effect knowledge. It’s really disappointing to see a man who once put so much care, so much detail in his earlier works, put so little effort in this film, a film with so much importance, a film that meant so much to those who follow his work.
As for the film’s redeeming values, there’s but a handful. Some of the actors are very good, such as Adam James as Michael Pierce and Cristian Solimeno as Detective Enzo Marchi, and the film has quite a fast pacing that creates a seemless flow from scene to scene, but the negative aspects of Mother Of Tears overshadow any of the film’s positive elements, leaving quite bitter taste in the mouth once the film has finished.
Personally, I found the experience of watching Mother Of Tears a very upsetting one. Not because of the film’s cruel subject matter, but because as I was discovering horror cinema when I was 14/15, Dario Argento was one of my favourite film-makers. I loved his movies. The first Dario Argento film I ever saw was Phenomena back when I was 14, and I absolutely loved it. Afterwards, I sought out his other work. I watched Tenebrae and fell in love with it. I watched Suspiria and was blown away by the film’s visual style. I watched Deep Red and I believed that I had discovered an amazing work of cinema that was rarely spoken of in popular media. To witness and fully appreciate something that was so far removed from mainstream cinema gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.
He was a director whom I held in high regard, the director who made me fall in love with Italian cinema, the director who made appreciate the genre of Giallo. One of my first short films, a mock trailer that I created when I was 16 and still learning how to use cameras and editing software, was heavily inspired by his films, and although my short film was crude and embarrassing, it was my personal ode to his cinematic works.
Over the years, I had read about how he had lost his touch in the 1990’s, how his work had become stale and despised by critcs. I had learnt about Phantom Of The Opera and The Card Player, but I didn’t want to live the disappointment of discovering how far his films had deteriorated. I thought I would be disappointed when I watched Sleepless, but Sleepless still retained a lot of what made me a fan of Dario Argento’s work, so I didn’t believe that his talents deteriorated that far.
Watching Mother Of Tears was a horrifically sobering experience. Mother Of Tears was supposed to be the most important Dario Argento movie in previous years, the one that would stand out against his half-baked concoctions in the early 2000’s, but the care and consideration that made his early work so fantastic was all missing. Mother Of Tears suffers from terrible directorial decisions, a lack of originality and an overall lack of identity, and it all came from the man who I once idolized. Now, I don’t know what to think.
I do not recommend watching Mother Of Tears. It’s a poor film by Dario Argento, and a feeble conclusion to the Mothers trilogy. Whoever made Mother Of Tears was not the same Dario Argento who was once dubbed ‘The Italian Hitchcock”, and Mother Of Tears shows just how much the “Master Of Suspense” had lost his touch after the millenium.