The Giallo film reinvented as an experimental S&M-tinged fever dream, told through a combination of color-gelled cinematography and jump-cut photographs, infused with dark sensuality and perverse cruelty. The short films of the directors of Amer are technically rawer than that film, but they show what was to come in terms of themes based on giallo films and an abstract style, from the use of still frames like in Chris Marker’s La Jetee to harsh coloured lighting. They are worth seeing by themselves as a refining of their ideas into a fantastic debut feature film.
Don’t be surprised if, while watching Chambre Jaune, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon some long lost home movies by Dario Argento. All the famed Italian director’s giallo iconography is here – the lone killer, the black-gloved hands, the attention to the tiniest details of dread, the odd fixation with trinkets and figurines, the hyper-saturated hues, the gleaming blade of a straight razor. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for Cattet and Forzani’s experimental approach (not a narrative so much as a collection of scenes that sort of tell a story) we’d swear the Mediterranean master was behind this effort. An excellent example of how a homage can elevate an otherwise standard slasher story.
Mixing digital video with jarring still photography, Chambre Jaune borrows heavily from traditional giallo symbolism, particularly an obsession with eyes and sexual violence – and no self respecting horror fan will miss the significance of the black leather gloves and the razor blade that are used, nor will they not be reminded of past films by the candy-colored lighting schemes. The only real innovation is the use of still photographs to create the effect of multiple jump cuts. Other than that it is derivative of the older giallo films in almost every way. The two directors seem to be better artisans than artists – everything is well photographed and edited, but there’s nothing particularly special about it.