Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Phenomena stars Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Federica Mastroianni, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Bauchau, Fiore Argento and last but not least, the chimpanzee Tanga.
Before I get into this film, I would like to mention an important caveat: New Line Cinema renamed this movie to Creepers when it was released in the United States, as well as editing out approximately thirty minutes of footage. A few things they had edited out were shaving time from murder scenes and some interesting exposition. Unfortunately, I have only seen the movie titled as Creepers, and not Phenomena, so I did not get the honour of watching or covering all the extra footage.
Phenomena is about Jennifer: the daughter of a famous actor with a fascination toward insects, who is being sent to a boarding school. She is not accepted too well by her peers at this new school, except for her roommate Sophie -- who is a big fan of her father. Jennifer, as we soon find out, is a sleepwalker, and she witnesses a murder during one such night venture. From here on, we follow John McGregor (who is an entomologist) and Jennifer trying to find the remains of the bodies of the murderer’s previous victims by utilizing an ability Jennifer soon learns she has. Hint: it has to do with the insects.
I have very little to complain about with this movie, but I do have some small problems with a few things. One of my few issues with this movie has to do specifically with the ‘Creepers edit’. See, the reason they shed time from the murder sequences was to remove gore. I think that is a weak reason for an edit, and that they should not have done that. Perhaps this could be because I’m from a younger generation where gore seems to be more common in movies, but this was unnecessary. However, that’s just me being nitpicky, because this really did not take away from this cut. I would have no problem with the scenes had I never had known. There was also a few scenes where I found the music did not seem to fit with the scene. I found the music occasionally came on too strong and intense for the scene that was being shown.
The list of things I liked about this movie could be endless, but I will try to keep it as brief as I can. Aside from the few scenes where I felt the music was out of place, the soundtrack is great. It was a bit unique and off-putting hearing an Iron Maiden or Motorhead song in this movie, but I quite enjoyed it. I also enjoyed that the movie never even shows the killer’s body when (s)he attacked. When a murder sequence happens we just get a view of the victim running away, then a close-up of the preparation of the weapon, then gloved hands performing the attack at a very close range. This seemed to be a lot more common back in this time, but they’ve seemed to really let go of this trope through the years. The killer is left a mystery to the viewers, and really could be anyone.
Overall, I would like to rate this movie 9 creepy-crawlies out of 10.