Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Expectations: Very high.
Don’t Look Now is definitely a horror film, but outright calling it such creates a general expectation that it’s similar to other horror movies. It’s not. Even thriller is a bad genre designation, as the pace is much too slow without much that provides genuine thrills. But psychological thriller fits Don’t Look Now a lot better, as nearly every moment of the film engages the mind, usually on multiple levels simultaneously. The film carries an air of foreboding doom for its characters, remaining creepy and unsettling right down to its final frame. It’s definitely not a film for everyone, but for those willing to sit with it, Don’t Look Now delivers the goods.
The film begins with the children of John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura (Julie Christie) playing in the woods beyond their house. The filmmaking foreshadows that something disastrous is about to occur, and the psychological elements immediately creep in. Meanwhile, John is inside the house examining slides of church windows. He becomes preoccupied with a red-jacketed figure in the church’s pews, all the while his daughter plays outside in a red rain slicker amidst the ominous camera of director Nicholas Roeg.
What no one can dispute is the foreboding beauty and pervasive power of the film’s location shooting in Venice, Italy. It’s an amazing atmospheric benefit, adding immensely to the old-world terror and visual beauty of the film. The cinematography captures the city’s beautiful aging architecture, as well as its shadowy back allies, to create a perfect mood for the strange occult nature of the story to take root and grow.
Don’t Look Now is a fantastic film that manages to marry horror and artistic elements in ways rarely seen. If you like ’70s film and psychological horror, Don’t Look Now is a must see.