Rose Elliot is a young poet that lives alone in an old New York building. After reading a mysterious book called "The Three Mothers", which talks about the houses of three sisters that practice black magic, she believes that the building she lives in is one of those houses. But these speculations attract unwanted attention thus putting her life in danger.
Making a sequel to a critically acclaimed film is quite challenge and the result are mixed to say the least, let alone a sequel to a horror film, but as for the question I asked in the introduction I have to say that I can't go with either side as I agree with both of them. In the first 15 minutes you can see this isn't "Suspiria" level as the acting is just awful (not that "Suspiria" had fantastic acting to begin with but this film is even worse than B movie level), the score suffers a major downfall due to the absence of Goblin (thus half of the its predecessor´s power is gone), the story is just nonsensical (sure the last film didn't have a solid story but it mostly made sense, especially the reason for each murder. Here I just keep asking 'Why is this happening? ´) and it is unfocused as instead of being centered on a small horror story it is more preoccupied about stablish the fact that this is the middle ground of a trilogy (to the point of expending 15 minutes setting up the final chapter of the trilogy), the characters are even blander than last time (this is one of the dumbest and blandest horror protagonist I´ve ever seen), the unintentional comedy is expanded (I challenge you to not laugh at certain major scene involving cats), and it just goes to typical horror sequel cliché (a bigger body count, the deaths are more elaborated due to the bigger budget, many scenes from the first film are recreated and they change the gender of the main character). But regardless of its many flaws "Inferno" is still a solid film in Argento´s resume and is a worthy continuation to "Suspiria" thanks to Argento. If you know anything about horror or Dario´s films you know that plot/characters/acting are not a priority (finding a horror film that has quality in those aspects is like finding a diamond in the rough) but the atmosphere and directing are as they make the film scary or unnerving and that's where Argento shines. Unlike "Suspiria" this film returns to Argento´s Hitchcockian style, his vivid use of colors is as striking as last time, his camerawork continues to create a creepy atmosphere, the setting is just as gorgeously creepy as the Tanz Dance Academy, and while the score isn't as powerful as Goblin´s work it has its moments.
"Inferno" is by no means as good as "Suspiria" and it has major flaws that are expected from a horror sequel but regardless it is still a well-crafted film that has its moments. If you are looking for "Suspiria" quality then you will be disappointed but if you manage to look beyond its notorious problems then "Inferno" is an underrated Italian film that is undeniably more fun to watch than its predecessor (for better or worse).
I don't mind the non-sensical plot, it gives the movie a dream like surreal quality, which is fine, but the acting and dialogue are so extremely bad, it very much prevents me from getting invested in the movie. This causes you to just hop from one murder to the next, completely uncaring of what happens to the victim as the character is so card board, you don't really give a damn what happens to him/her.
This is a failing of course in all of Argento's movies, the man doesn't seem to give a shit about acting, story, dialogue and really, which touches my final point, music as well.
Suspiria as far as this is concerened is of course the exception to this rule as it features the fantastic Goblin score which really complements the movie, but in this movie, the Keith Emerson music (and I used to be a huge fan of ELP) is completely not complementing what you see in the movie, it completely takes you out of it and destorys any last chance you might have had of giving a shit about the proceedings, let alone that the music in and of itself is not exactly well written.
It actually made me angry, because it kept distracting me from the movie and ruined any chance of enjoying it or feeling anything remotely related to fear, anxiety or whatever the director intended.
It was only later even to be surpassed by Phenomena where the Heavy Metal score completely ruined the movie, which was a great shame, because there was a lot of good stuff in that movie.
It's popular opinion by now that "Suspiria" is the greatest of the trio; with its gumdrop sweet Technicolor photography, explosively mounted bloodshed, and cacophonous soundtrack by prog-rock group The Goblins, it is, as I put it in my original review, "the closest thing the movies have ever come to capturing a nightmare on the screen". It is such a horror masterpiece that any sort of follow-up is destined to be proven as an underwhelming affair.
While it's true that its sequel, "Inferno", is inferior to its predecessor, there is no denying its mastery - if it weren't the work of Argento, it would be lauded as, yes, a horror masterpiece. But even for Argento, it's a minor masterpiece, more static than "Suspiria", more engrossed by its ambience.
It continues the story kicked off by its 1977 counterpart, which saw ancient witch Mater Suspiriorum terrorizing a spooky ballet studio in Freiburg, Germany. That film, of course, lead to her murder at the hands of naïve dance student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper); "Inferno", in turn, switches its location to New York City, where Mater Tenebrarum (The Lady of Darkness) is said to reside. Though equipped with new characters, a slightly refreshed plot (a concerned Leigh McCloskey travels to the city to search for sister Irene Miracle after receiving a strange letter), and a different location (an elaborately designed hotel instead of an elaborately designed school), not much about "Inferno" deviates from "Suspiria". It's another case of labyrinthine stalk-and-slashes mystifying and nightmarish, more concerned with scary style than a plodding plot.
But what style! Reminiscent of the neon artifice of Fassbinder's "Lola" or Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy", light exists only as a colored medium - naked bulbs are nowhere in sight, replaced by shadows and CinemaScope saturation distinctly fake but raucously sumptuous. Blues have the deep richness of cerulean salt, reds hypnotizing and devilish; a case of sore-eyed design, like a bookcase or a door, seems to be hiding something. In "Inferno", artful contrivance is reality - in a world where three witches use their sizable powers to manipulate the Earth, evil is more convincing than everyday life.
Which is why "Suspiria" and "Inferno" so easily creep under the skin; the villains on the prowl are so knowing, so far beyond regular menace that their very threat looms over every individual shot. There's never a moment we can exhale in relief - it's as though they're always watching, waiting to kill us off in a bafflingly complex way after changing their minds for someone else. An inexplicable evil is always much more disturbing in a horror movie than an analyzed Norman Bates type - we don't want to be left in the know. It would mare the malevolence.
The biggest shock of all, though, is "Inferno"'s peculiar lack of gore. Whereas "Supiria" was a carousel of gruesome effects, "Inferno" is more intent on suspense, drawing out its kill-offs to near unbearable lengths. I loved how eccentric each death is - consider that one ready-to-be-dropped fly is eaten alive by rats, only to be stabbed by a nearby hot dog vendor possibly possessed by Mater Tenebrarum herself, with another girl chased and later attacked by a never revealed foe with a set of hands evocative of a centuries old warlock. Nothing in "Inferno" really makes sense, and that's precisely the point. If it weren't for the sudden, final ending, it would be an endless loop of nightmarish imagery. It's "Suspiria" minus the orotund butchery, which is still, if I may say so, pretty remarkable.
The film is the second in his three mothers trilogy.
Basically a New Yorker buys an old creepy book called The Three Mothers.
From reading this she suspects that her old apartment block is the locale in the book.
Quell murder (gruesome) and destruction ending with an Inferno.
The New Yorker disappears in the chaos that ensues but not after calling on the assistance of her music student brother from Rome.
He also becomes entangled in the affair culminating in discoveries in the basement and underneath the apartment block.
Argento uses clever use of colours, camera angles and music to add to the suspense but the film lacks the quality of previous entry in the series Suspiria which was made three years prior and which I have watched but not reviewed.
I'm also going to have to agree on the lack of clear motivations for the characters here, the general plot line involves characters searching for three keys for ill defined reason The witches purposes are never adequately explained, and the whole thing is just a mess really.
If I were you I'd avoid this title.