Absolutely delicious cinematography, but wow, the writing really drags this thing down. Usually the greatest thing a writer can do for this type of film is to just get out of the way—Argento and Zapponi make sure that their nonsense is heard. I thought for a moment that the film would take a Sharp Objectsturn toward the end, but no, it had a much less evocative ending, but still one that was obfuscated by far too many red herrings (were they red herrings, or just fanciful shots misinterpreted? It really doesn’t matter as it won’t make the writing more or less comprehensible). On the other hand, you’ve got films like Possession that are filled to the brim with material, or nonsense (I recall telling my friend when stumbling out of the theater that Possession has “a lot more meat” than Deep Red; he had no idea what I meant, neither do I really, hopefully it means something to you). But Possession treats it like poetry rather than plot, and so I’m never left thinking “am I supposed to be following this”? You go inside Possession rather than follow it. Deep Red, you follow around as it hobbles, slowly. Then again, every shot is absolutely delicious, so what can I say.
Note: It’s sort of like a mutilated, yet somehow neutered, Red Desert. Seems like Argento might have been going for that comparison with the title. I much prefer the Italian title, by the way: Profondo rosso. Deep Red also made me think of Don’t Look Now (which incidentally had “rosso” in its Italian title, too). Although that film doesn’t approach the camera work here, it leaves me with a lot more to chew on in the long run.