Review: The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (GFF)

Its influence is apparent in many genre features, but giallo is a tradition that gradually appears to have faded away in recent years. Foremost filmmaker of the movement Dario Argento seems to have lost his touch (see his misguided Dracula adaptation) whilst other prominent figures involved with giallo have more often than not faded into obscurity. However, filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer) are at the forefront of a new wave of giallo filmmaking – as excellently showcased by their sophomore feature film, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (L’étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps).

Destined for cult worship, writer-directors Cattet and Forzani craft this tale that follows Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange), a man returning home from a business trip to discover that his wife is missing from their apartment. He soon embarks on a labyrinthine investigation around the elegant apartment block uncovering a grisly force operating behind its walls.

From the film’s onset it is clear that this is going to be a truly immersive throwback to the classic giallo of the seventies. We are immediately struck by its relentless style from blood red opening titles, intercut with black and white footage of an unnerving murder sequence – complete with sharp blades, bare flesh and a plethora of frantic eye close-ups. Wearing its influences on its blood-drenched sleeves there are homages to everything from Don’t Look Now (look out for a red-coated young girl handing out razor-blade filled candies) to the veiled, black leather gloved killers from the likes of The Strange Case of Mrs Vardh and Who Saw Her Die, amongst countless others.

A palette of deep colours and elaborately decadent visuals ensure that The Strange Colour is an unflinching watch with a boldly uncompromising style and impressive lack of regard for contemporary horror norms. The apartment block setting is filled with a awe-inspiring beauty and luxury through its marble architecture, grand staircases and bold colourings – the perfect canvas for this tale of murder, mystery, eroticism and terror to unfold upon. Even the costuming packs a stunningly elaborate punch – as best showcased in a gorgeous sequence which sees a black-veiled woman followed by a red-veiled woman through an empty marble-paved station.

Complete with a score that channels the likes of Bruno Nicolai and Ennio Morricone, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a tale packed with an unforgettable atmosphere combining class, glamorous yet blood-soaked visuals and an aura of sheer terror. This atmosphere is also echoed in Cattet and Forzani’s filmmaking style which utilises trippy dream-like nightmare sequences, frequent usage of black and white and whirling visuals that unnervingly showcase a world full of psychological horrors.

Like the tradition it embraces, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears can often be seen as an exercise of style over substance and is likely to require a few watches to grasp its narrative complexities. Events become somewhat incomprehensible in the film’s final act, with Cattet and Forzani’s elaborate style likely to serve as a frustrating distraction to viewers who like a clear and solid narrative conclusion.

This is sort of film that Dario Argento should be making in 2014. Whilst its narrative has its unexplained complexities, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a thrilling experience with its uncompromising visual style and nerve-shredding tension. It is a sterling piece of modern giallo.