• Francesca




    Released by: Unearthed Films
    Released on: September 27th, 2016.
    Director: Luciano Onetti

    Cast: Luis Emilio Rodriguez, Gustavo Dalessanro, Raul Gederlini
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    Argentinian filmmaker Luciano Onetti, who previously directed Sonno Profondo (aka Deep Sleep) in 2014, offers up 2015's Francesca, another throwback to the classic giallo style so beloved by cult film fans that he co-wrote with brother Nicolás Onetti.

    The movie revolves around the strange case of Francesca Visconti, the daughter of an artist named Vittorio Visconti (Raul Gederlini) who disappeared fifteen years before the events that make up the bulk of the film. Nowadays, the city has a bigger problem – a maniac in a red coat and red leather gloves, inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, is out cleansing the town of undesirables. Two cops – Brunon Moretti (Luis Emilio Rodriguez) and Benito Succo (Gustavo Dalessanro) – are working the case.

    The more they look into it, however, the more they start to wonder if Francesca has returned... with a taste for blood. Is it possible that Vittorio's long lost little girl has grown up, away from her family, and become a psychopath? Our cops intend to find out, but it won't be easy and as the bodies keep pilling up, they are made all too aware that they are very short on time.

    Hats off to the Onetti Brothers for crafting a movie that really does look and feel like it could have been made in the late sixties/early seventies heyday of the Italian giallo cycle. The art direction nails it – everything from the wardrobe and costumes to the film's score to the camera movements to the pacing to the locations all really do conjure up everything you'd want from a c classic giallo. The imagery here is strong, impressive and in some cases unforgettable – that creepy doll? It's there for a reason but the reason almost doesn't matter, don't over think it, but then, try to get that image out of your head when the end credits roll. The movie is full of little bits and pieces like this, eerie shots, odd camera movements, there's just a lot of weird little visual flourishes crammed in here. If it seems like style over substance at first, stick with it. The story here isn't as complex as it might try to convince viewers it is, but it is effective. It moves at a decent pace and it throws in a few decent twists before it all wraps up. It's not all that deep and it could have been more engaging, but it works.

    The film is also impressive in its graphic depiction of stylish violence, even if it never goes so over the top as to really jar the audience. There's an injury to the eye scene in here that would make Lucio Fulci stand up and cheer, and we get a few decent slashings and some nice corpse effects later in the film. All of this looks to have been done using practical effects, rather than CGI, which makes the fact that this was shot digitally and then tweaked in post to look like old, faded film easier to forgive. There are a few wonky jump cuts that feel a bit out of place and yeah, the 'fake print damage/digitally created grindhouse print' thing has been old hat for far too long at this point (really, this movie would have looked gorgeous had they simply presented it in proper color), but Francesca gets everything else right. The performances suit the movie, the pacing, the style and yeah, the soundtrack. Hot damn, that soundtrack.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Unearthed Films presents Francesca in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition 2.35.1 widescreen transfer on a 25GB Blu-ray disc that is quite nice looking. Detail is typically pretty solid even if, as mentioned above, the image has been monkeyed with in post to look like faded film print and for that reason there are some shots that don't show as much texture and detail as you want but overall, yeah, it's there and it looks good. There are some scenes that look a little jittery but the image is free of any compression artifacts or edge enhancement. As this was shot digitally any grain that shows up in the picture has is the product of digital artificial insemination, but given what these guys were clearly going for, you can't really complain. The transfer is a very strong representation of what the Onetti Brothers set out to create.

    The Italian language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo mix is a good one and true to the film’s throwback style and there’s nothing to complain about in terms of the quality of the mix. The dialogue is clean and clear, everything is balanced properly, and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras on this release start off with a fourteen minuet behind the scenes featurette that shows off how some of the makeup appliances were created and applied to the cast, how some of the more interesting shots in the movie were captured, some of the locations that were employed (such as a city library and a monastery!), difficulties caused during the shoot by the weather and how the movie's audio mix was created. There's also a twenty-minute interview here with the Onetti Brothers. Here they talk about their influences, how they discovered giallo films, what went into writing the screenplay for the movie, getting the movie shown at various international film festivals, recreating the time period that the film takes place in and more.

    For those too impatient to sit through the end credits, the 'hidden scene' that comes after those credits is also available to watch on its own off of the extras menu. Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Unearthed Films properties, animated menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, the impressive digipack packaging also holds inside a DVD version of the film with identical extra features and the movie’s complete soundtrack on a separate compact disc. There's also a very cool insert booklet made up to look like a vintage giallo novel that contains liner notes from Ultra Violent Magazine's Art Ettinger.

    The Final Word:

    Francesca is a visually mesmerizing giallo throwback and if the story can't quite match the imagery, well, this reviewer didn't mind so much. It's pretty entertaining stuff and an impresssive technical achievement. Unearthed Films has done an excellent job bringing the movie to home video in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with some good extra features highlighted by the inclusion of the film's soundtrack on CD.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!