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Release Date: August 26, 2014 (DVD and VOD)
Director: Luciano Onetti
MPAA Rating: NR

Fans of classic giallo-style Italian horror are in for a treat with Luciano Onetti’s Sonno Profondo (Deep Sleep), a film that pays loving homage to such horror legends as Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Although the film itself chooses style over substance, I was astounded at the level of detail and care that went into making this look and feel like it came straight out of the ’70s.

Deep Sleep follows the story of a killer who discovers he has become the target of another killer. Shot in entirely POV, the story is told with almost zero words uttered, save for a news report at the beginning of the film and a declaration from the second killer later on in the film. While this mostly works, this lack of dialogue can make things slightly hard to follow when all the twists begin to occur. In fact, I’m still not sure I entirely understand what transpired in the finale.

Truthfully, however, I didn’t really care because this film looks absolutely gorgeous, and, as a big fan of giallo myself, I was loving every second of it. The painstaking detail that went into creating a classic ’70s giallo is border-line jaw dropping in how accurate the filmmakers made it. Yes, they used film degradation and added grain to make it look dated, but it was the small details that pushed this over the top and could easily fool most anyone into thinking it’s of the era. From the bright red paint-looking blood to the entirely too-close close-ups, Onetti nailed it in every regard.

Complementing the visuals is a fantastic score, also created by Onetti, and also completely indistinguishable from the past. In a film devoid of dialogue, music and sound are key, and thankfully it delivers on all fronts. It sounds good, but not too good as to break the illusion of an old low-budget giallo.

When watching Sonno Profondo, I’m reminded of another highly visual film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, which achieved a similar classic look, only with a different genre.  Like that film, Sonno Profondo has a weak narrative that just doesn’t live up to the high standard the visuals have set. We never see more than the killer’s gloved hands, caressing everything he touches in the most exaggerated ways, and it begins to become tedious.

Without any characters other than the person whose perspective we have, it’s also tough to keep one’s attention to the screen, despite the amazing visuals. Quite a few giallo movies have scenes involving glove-wearing killers creeping around, looking for their victims, but there’s probably a reason directors like Argento chose not to make the entire movie this way. Oddly, this POV style is something we’ve seen relatively recently with the Maniac remake, however it was done to better effect in that one.

This is also the type of film that is designed to be watched by fans of this genre.  Casual moviegoers and even many horror fans will find it to be too slow and confusing. People who are into these types of films, however, will find a lot to like here. There have been a number of neo- giallo movies to come out in recent years, but none of them so acutely capture the essence of the genre than Sonno Profondo.  I would absolutely love to see Onetti do this again, and I sincerely hope this film finds the audience it deserves.


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