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Mother of Tears (2007) - Is this an Argento flick or Hocus Pocus

Mother of Tears (2007) – Three Mothers, the final chapter… thankfully

1.5/5

In 1977, Italian horror master Dario Argento began a journey with his groundbreaking horror masterpiece, Suspiria (1977). He tells the tale of three headed cabal of ancient witches that hide in the shadows of global power and politics. Occupying three strategic strongholds in Frieberg, Rome and New York City. Suspiria tells the story of Mother Suspiriorum. His 1980 follow-up Inferno tells the tale of Mother Tenebrarum… followed by 27 years of silence on the matter. The horror wondered if it would ever see the finale of this ambitious tale. Finally, Argento made good on his promise in 2007 with Mother of Tears, the story of the most evil of them all, Mother Lachrymarum.

This would not be the first time that Mother Lachrymarum would grace the silver screen. Inferno did make a passing reference to both her beauty and her menace.

Mother of Tears (2007) - The 3rd mother's urn is chained to the casket of a long deceased priest
Mother of Tears (2007) – The 3rd mother’s urn is chained to the casket of a long deceased priest

Sidestepping the Enigma

Both Suspiria and Inferno begin with a bit of a mystery to be unraveled. This time around, Argento goes straight for the rocket fuel and launches right into the into the heart of the narrative. The film begins with the exhumation of the body of a Catholic priest. Bound to his casket is a box of ancient artifacts. The church sends the box to the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome. Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) receives the artifacts: a tunic, a dagger and three statues representing the triumvirate of witches. Upon starting her investigation, the evil origins of the urn become clear. Sarah becomes the reluctant hero that must destroy Mater Lachrymarum once and for all.

One things that immediately stands out for fans of Inferno and Suspiria concerns the tone and style of the film. Argento dispenses with the brilliant lighting and artistry of the original film. in fact, one could describe jarringly stark. The lines are cold and the film reeks of digital harshness. The juxtaposition of this film when compared to its predecessors could not be more visible.

One might argue that Argento created a no win situation for himself by waiting 27 years between Inferno and Mother of Tears. Attempting to mimic the style of the past might be seen as contrived. However, not doing so could result in a backlash from fans. From Malevolent Dark’s perspective, we wish he would have at least tried.

Mother of Tears (2007) - This one doesn't have much, but it has good ole Argento brutality
This one doesn’t have much, but it has good ole Argento brutality

Mother of Tears – Profoundly Ridiculous In More Way Than One

Argento’s film suffers mightily from having far too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen. It seems that the script originated from Daria Nicolodi back in the 80’s. It would then receive additional treatment from Argento in the early 2000’s. Finally, Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch would also participate. Though it’s impossible to tell what bits were stripped and which bits made the final cut, the whole of the film bumbles through what seems to be tons of ill-conceived baggage.

One of the more clumsy narratives concerns Daria Nicolodi as the Elisa Mandy, mother of Sarah. She speaks to Sarah and protects her through disembodied communications and periodically peers through through a blue filtered cloud of space magic rendered in utterly comical CGI. The story suggests that Elisa once confronted the three witches through the use of her powerful white magic. She passed some of her powers to her daughter which she learns to harness throughout the film. It’s as though she’s he last Jedi, and Nicolodi is a goofy Obi-Wan Kenobie. There’s even a scene where they check Sarah’s “midichlorians”.

The sound you just heard was the pain of my exasperation and the eruption of my intellect leaving my body.

Mater Lachrymarum’s (Moran Atias) power surges as she gains control of the Urn. She unleashes an underground coven of witches and familiars on the city of Rome causing mayhem and chaos. The plot device might work had Argento not portrayed the coven as a troupe of rejects from a Cyndi Lauper video. For a film with such a pedigree, the absurdity feels almost insulting. Her menagerie of familiars are worse than a Volkswagon full of clowns. Once again, an unseen demonic beast lurks in the shadows, but this time it just feels lame.

Mother of Tears (2007) - Asia Argento plays the role of Sarah Mandy, museum curator
Asia Argento plays the role of Sarah Mandy, museum curator

But Hey, There’s Gore

Considering the steep intellectual price of admission that Argento demands, he at least he pays the audience back with some good old fashion blood and guts. Argento’s creative use of gore provides some relief to his otherwise asinine film. It begins promptly with the graphic disembowelment of Sarah’s boss moments after opening the urn. Argento later ups the gory, and cringeworthy, ante by performing a full body impalement of a woman through her birth canal.

To be completely honest, the kills are high quality, but they seem to lack the impact that they had in previous films. In Suspiria, the brutality of the kills provide stark contrast to the fantastic architecture, and brilliant lighting. Mother of Tears lacks this level artisanship, leaving the the kills feeling gratuitous and shallow.

Mother of Tears (2007) - Is this an Argento flick or Hocus Pocus
Is this an Argento flick or Hocus Pocus

Some Things Are Best Unfinished

The decline of Dario Argento’s work had not only been rumored, but also demonstrated by this juncture in his caqreer. In 2004 he directed The Card Player. While The Card Player, possessed a very good kernel of plot, but it displayed a holistic lack of command. It also showed the same lack of stylistic panache, flat unimaginative cinematography and general malaise that he would carry into Mother of Tears. The creation of a bad movie does not constitute a crime. In this case, the real crime is abandonment. Argento abandons everything that made his crown jewel, Suspiria, so wonderful. Argento forsakes everything from thick atmosphere, brilliant music and baroque sensibilities in favor of the cheap veneer of a low-quality exploitation.

It boggles the mind as to Argento’s goal 27 years later. The trilogy only existed because he insisted on creating one. Being totally transparent, even Inferno stumbled a bit, but nowhere near this level of incompetence. At the height of his success, he could have completed it at any time between 1981 and 2007. For much of that time, European horror cinema ate from his hand. I for one was begging for this series to get its finale, but not at this cost.

Mother of Tears (2007) - Three Mothers, the final chapter... thankfully - Malevolent Dark
mother of tears is this an argento movie or hocus pocus

Director: Dario Argento

Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33

Editor's Rating:
1.5

Pros

  • It's got gore if you want it
  • Finally a conclusion to the elusive Mother of Tears trilogy

Cons

  • Seriously hokey plot points
  • Needless shoehorning of Daria Nicolodi
  • Laughable performances
  • Sterile cinematography

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