Months after the tragic death of their daughter Christine, John Baxter (Sutherland) and his wife Laura (Christie) take a trip to Venice. While John loses himself in work restoring an old church, Laura finds relief when she meets a pair of elderly sisters (Matania, Mason), one of whom claims to be psychic and able to see Christine. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose in Venice…
In addition to being held as an influential masterpiece of British filmmaking, Don’t Look Now is also regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time. Even though, truth be told, it’s not really a ‘horror’ movie in the conventional sense. Starting off as a tragic family melodrama, Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 chiller is part supernatural thriller, part psychological exploration of grief and part whodunit mystery, all laced with menacing sense of impending doom. Though it seems like nothing much is happening for most of the running time, you always have the feeling that it’s all building towards something shattering. Which it is.
Somber, mournful and dated in places, it’s also not especially frightening. But with several recurring motifs employed throughout (the colour red, shattered glass, water, mistaken identity), this is a movie which works on a subconscious level. Based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier (whose writing was used by Hitchcock for Rebecca and The Birds), the deceptive veneer of ordinary everydayness is but a mask for a haunting Venetian puzzle. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are hugely believable as a grief-stricken married couple (to the degree that there has been years of debate on whether their infamous sex scene was actually real), while Venice, all murky canals and ominous, labyrinth-like streets, is essentially a character in its own right.
A classic chiller which is rightly held as an influential piece of British filmmaking. While it seems like nothing much is happening for most of the running time, you always have the feeling that Don’t Look Now is building towards something shattering. Which it is.