This film is highly regarded as a classic among the horror genre, it was directed by Nicolas Roeg and written by Allan Scott and Chris Bryant. It’s atmospheric, it’s psychological and it draws upon some interesting techniques to disorientate and draw you in as the viewer.
I had an interesting time with this film, I found myself coming to certain conclusions throughout the runtime and then withdrawing them as the film further progressed. Even as I write this I find myself mulling over and distorting my feelings towards certain aspects. So without further delay, let’s progress onward.
This would be the part where I either discuss the plot at length or in the form of a quick fire round. I’m gonna be honest I don’t know which way it’s going to go this time. The story begins with a look inside the quaint life of The Baxter household, don’t get too cosy though! While the young son and daughter are playing outside tragedy strikes. The Daughter drowns!
This is the central point that drives the plot forward, suddenly we find ourselves in Venice with John and Laura Baxter (played by Donald Sutherland & Julie Christie), some time has passed as we see John is working with a team to help restore a church that is in disarray. The couple go to dinner together where Laura encounters a psychic who tells her off her dead daughter. She’s overwhelmed with this encounter but strangely welcomes any sort of mention of her Christine.
John finds out about this encounter and is in hysterics as he frantically tells his wife how their daughter is dead, soon after this the couple go out for dinner together and find themselves lost down the streets of Venice. Here John catches sight of a small child like figure running away, he’s taken aback by this as the small figure was wearing the same bright red jacket his daughter was wearing when she drowned.
A number of days pass and the couple receive a telephone call detailing how their son has been injured back home in England, Laura decides to go visit the sons boarding school as John stays in Venice. During his time alone John is convinced he sees Laura on a passing boat with the psychic woman, he reports it to the local police and sets out to look for her himself (The man just unravels).
He spots the small child like figure again and decides to pursue this time as he’s seemingly convinced that it may be his deceased daughter, what he’s confronted with is nothing he was prepared for (I don't think anyone was prepared to see a old lady midget with a big knife). So that’s the plot I guess. Personally I believe the plot to be the weakest aspect of this film, so I’m just going to leave that there and talk about a few other aspects.
There’s a few things that really stuck out to me while viewing this (This was my first time watching this). The editing was rather jarring in parts, I don’t think thats a bad thing by any stretch, in fact I was a big fan of it all the way through this film. There were scenes that were cut together with completely different visuals and/or audio, a number of times the camera will quickly cut to a background visual or it will linger on a particular shot for a couple of seconds. The editing is also used to portray the streets of Venice as a sort of labyrinth during certain scenes, which further increases the disorientation the audiences feels as the events John Baxter experiences unfold.
The colour red. The colour Red has a massive presence within this flick. The daughter, Christine Baxter was wearing a red rain jacket when she drowned, after that event the colour red is prominent whenever Christine is mentioned either in the form of a memory or otherwise in perhaps some supernatural instance. It’s usually something small like an object of clothing or an accessory item. It’s a detail I picked up on and I thought it was an interesting touch.
Some quick side notes before I wrap this little package up. The pacing is overall quite good, I never found myself wondering how much longer was left. The sex scene was incredibly full on and very lengthy there was some positions and actions taken that made me question what I was watching. The ending is bizarre and completely comes out of no where…. I just, what? The Performances are pretty good, no one stands out as being particularly bad or anything they were all quite serviceable.
'Don't look now', a slow burn, the temperature of the flame stays a consistently satisfying temperature throughout offering up some bizarre twists and turns while making good use editing and other tropes to boost this atmospheric and psychological horror film, do I think it should be regarded as a classic? Well that's something that'll stay between me and the meat cleaver wielding midget that turns up at the end.... no, no I don't think it should be.