Francesca Blu Ray Review (Unearthed Films)
Francesca is a 2015 Giallo film from director Luciano Onetti (Sonno Profondo & What the Waters Left Behind). Giallo you say? In 2015? Did I read that right? Yes, it’s true Giallos still exist in the world of cinema these days. It’s definitely rare but they are still made from time to time. For those of you that are unaware of the sub genre it’s basically Italy’s version of the suspense / thriller genre with similar concepts you see here in America but it tends to be pushed a little farther over there. Honestly, I can see basic American horror fans who are not familiar with the history of it confusing them as Italian slashers sometimes because they had very similar elements as the ones shown here. The word Giallo means yellow in Italian. The term comes from a series of cheap paperback mystery novels with yellow covers that were popular back in the day in Italy. It’s kinda a controversial subject considering a few before it could easily be considered the original one but most consider Mario Bava’s 1963 film “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” to be the first one. It was followed by many others over the years after but in 1970 director Dario Argento’s debut The Bird with the Crystal Plumage really took off & made the sub genre popular. Around 65 of them were produced from 1971 to 1973. Giallos had it’s best & most successful run from 1968 to 1978. It continued in the 80s & 90s but it’s audience was slowing down by then. In 2009, Argento directed the film titled “Giallo” after returning to the genre that gave him his start a few years before with “The Card Player”. It’s few & far between for the Giallo in modern times but we have seen a few over the years including Francesca’s director Luciano Onetti’s own Sonno Profondo aKa Deep Sleep. Some others in recent years include The Editor, Bad Inclination, Eyes of Crystal, The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears, Masks, The Last Screening, Almost Blue, Last Caress, Blackaria, The Three Sisters, & Amer. Giallo has been adapted from many other countries including America.
The film opens with a mysterious killer in a red coat with red gloves torturing & killing a young woman by stabbing her in the mouth, The stranger takes pictures of their gruesome work. The body gets moved to a park & the murderer leaves a clue. Woman witnessed all of this but couldn’t see the face of the suspect but they seem very familiar. Inspector Bruno Moretti (Luis Emilio Rodriguez) shows up to investigate the crime. All previous victims have been attached to some criminal past. A news article is published about Francesca who has been missing for 15 years. The clue left at the murder makes police think about that old missing person case. The executioner is heavily influenced by Dante’s Inferno & leaves coins on the eyes of their victims. Vittorio Visconti (Raul Gederlini) is very familiar with this literature the clues are based on. He also the father of Francesca from the recent rediscovered cold case. He tells the Inspector about the night he was paralyzed from being stabbed in the spine & the masked robber kidnapping his daughter that night 15 years ago. The killer is seen putting together more clues for it’s next victim. The stranger calls the police & warns them about what’s to come. A woman sees the same creepy doll randomly appear in her residence that’s been show through out this.
The witness from before is brutally attacked & killed in her home. Inspector Bruno Moretti & Detective Benito Succo (Gustavo Dalessanro) show up to look into it. The victim wasn’t like the others. She had a clean past & did no one any harm. She was just at the wrong place at the wrong time the other day. Nina Visconti (Silvina Grippaldi) is having nightmares about her daughter. The unknown monster starts messing with strange dolls, weird mannequin, & them self while thinking about their sadistic work. A musician is stalked & finds the creepy doll repeating “Mommy wants to play with you” during his rehearsal. The killer surprises him & slits his throat. Pianist Giovanni Bianco (Juan Bautista Massolo) had an affair that caused him to lose his wife in a disastrous accident. His assistant feeling guilty over everything goes to church to confess her sins & she is stabbed through the confessional by the demented murderer. Someone close to the investigations is met by the bizarre doll & ends up being poisoned to death. Investigator finds the book that inspired the killings misses pages from the library. After viewing the recent check out list for it he notices a name he knows all too well. Flashbacks of what happened that set this twisted chain of events in motion are shown. Start to think everything is figured out until several more twists end up taking place. This one that doesn’t reveal itself until the very end!!!!
Let’s talk about the film, high definition presentation & special features on this standard version from Unearthed Films. Francesca is very reminiscent of the early 1970s Giallos with flashes of Argento & shades of Fulci thrown in. I thought I knew who the killer was from the start & I am usually pretty good about that type of stuff but I was completely wrong here. I questioned myself after a little bit & suspected someone else but I was also incorrect with that assumption. This is a well written mystery with great misdirection that keeps you in suspense until the finale. As you noticed in my short essay above. I am very fond of the Giallo sub-genre & this one brings fresh air into it. I really enjoyed the recent Editor when it comes to the genre but that was more silly & over the top compared to this. So I was more satisfied with the end result of this in it’s serious tone. I am kicking myself for missing out on the limited edition 3 disc version for this because the score for Francesca is TOP NOTCH! I want to own that soundtrack! It’s almost like another character in the story for this. It amps up everything for the production. When I said it reminded me of early 1970s stuff that was one of the reasons. The other one is the visual style & fantastic look of Francesca. It’s highly bright & stands out from most cinema you see in recent productions. The camera work rivals talents from the past. That’s a lost art with movies these days. If you weren’t told it was made a few years ago, you would think it was produced & made a long time ago. Luciano Onetti is someone to look at out for! This 1080p (2.55:1) transfer looks amazing on blu ray. The film is in Italian (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0) with English subtitles, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!! It has a 14 minute “Behind the Scenes” which looks at the production of this modern day Giallo. 3 minute “Deleted Scene (Alternate Beginning)”. It has an almost 20 minute “interview” with Onetti brothers (Luciano & Nicolas). It’s in Spanish with English subtitles. 2 minute “Hidden Scene” from the film. Last but not least “trailers” for Unearthed Films which includes this feature, Atroz, American Guinea Pig series, Lilith’s Hell, & Sheep Skin. Unearthed Films delivers another quality addition to their ever growing catalog. Personally, this might be my favorite release from them. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!