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  Into the Labyrinth A-maze-balls
Year: 2019
Director: Donato Carrisi
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Toni Servillo, Valentina Belle, Vinicio Marchioni, Katsiaryna Shulha, Orlando Cinque, Filippo Dini, Sergio Grossini, Carla Cassola, Luis Gnecco, Stefano Rossi Giordani, Riccardo Cicogna, Sergio Leone, Marta Paola Richeldi, Diego Facciotti
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Samantha Andretti (Valentina Belle) awakens in a hospital room completely disoriented, but there is someone here to guide her through this experience, a kindly psychiatrist who tells her he is Doctor Green (Dustin Hoffman). He promises to explain all: the first thing she must know is that she has been missing for some time and has been rescued from a very dangerous man who, when she regains her memory, she must tell the authorities as much as she can recall about him. There's a policeman standing outside the door of the room, so he is not likely to get her again, so she should be reassured - then she is told about the mirrors.

The psychopath did not allow her mirrors in the lair where he was keeping her trapped, and Green breaks it to her why, it's because he didn't want her to know how much time had passed, for Samantha has been absent from the world for fifteen years! Now, as he lies in the bed with a broken lower leg, it all begins to come flooding back, and the memories of being unable to leave a vast labyrinth (no, it's not metaphorical, that title refers to the real thing) have been a very authentic nightmare for the woman. But while all this is going on, there's a parallel plot featuring a dying detective, Bruno Genko (Toni Servillo), whose last case this is.

Actually, one mystery that may be preying on your own mind as a viewer may be, what on Earth was Hoffman doing in this? Presumably he made it about the time he was #metoo-ed, which might explain why he wasn't in a higher profile production, and the pandemic would go on to explain why he was not much heard of afterwards, but surely he wasn't this hard up for work? The film was the brainchild of Donato Carrisi, a huge deal in Italian crime fiction, and it was an adaptation of an instalment of a series of his, so he had a built in audience for the project in Europe at least, but that threw up problems as was evident from the not-quite giallo stylings throughout.

It was a mystery, there was no doubt about that, but its biggest twist was glaringly obvious from the first scene if you had read or seen any kind of this fiction before: basically, you would be primed to expect something from a certain character that drained the surprise out of it. Therefore what Carrisi did instead was set up other mysteries elsewhere in the plot, which he then promptly declined to solve. Was he hoping for a franchise? What he had wound up with was a guddle of vaguely horror and science fiction-esque tropes, mixed in with the usual Thomas Harris inspired genius serial killer nastiness that had spread across the crime genre both in print and in film, that seemed to be leading somewhere until you got to the end and the movie simply left you hanging.

Now, Italy has a long and respected, and even lampooned, history of thrillers in all media from a variety of starting points, and Into the Labyrinth (or L'uomo del labirinto if you preferred the original title) appeared to be playing a game of oneupmanship on a whole bunch of them by both buying into the plots that had succeeded before, while building up something that tried to be its own conception. That it did not succeed, in fact, was not through lack of trying, though you would have thought with the storyline dragging on way past the stage it should have been snappily wrapping itself up that Carrisi could at the bare minimum give us an ending that made sense. Perhaps it did, perhaps you needed a degree in Italian crime fiction to put all the pieces together, but unless you liked to be baffled there was more frustration in store than satisfaction, bunny masked murderers and psychic powers and all. It wasn't boring, you could give it that, Hoffman appeared to be amused, but it did feel half-finished. Music, emulating Ennio Morricone's seventies work, by Vito Lo Re.

[Into The Labyrinth will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 19th April 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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