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New York: Rose (Irene Miracle) learns from an old book, The Three
Mothers, that her house might actually be one of the three haunted
houses which are inhabited by the three mothers. She visits the
antiques dealer (Sacha Pitoeff) she bought the book from, but he evades
her questions, so she decides to investigate on her own, breaks into his
cellar and finds a flooded extra room - that she finds to be full of
corpses once she dives in ... and she almost doesn't make it out again.
Once back home, Rose writes everything to her brother Mark (Leigh
McCloskey), who lives in Rome. However, Mark dosen't get to read her
letter, only his girlfriend Sara (Eleonora Giorgi) does, and she decides
to do a little investigation on her own, and she visits the house of the
three mothers situated in Rome, a library where she finds the same old
book Rose has been reading in and decides to snatch it. But when she wants
to leave the place, she accidently stumbles into an alchemist's lab, and
the alchemist realizes she has stolen the book and suddenly she finds
herself on the run.
Back in her appartment, Sara calls Mark to come over immediately - but
when he arrives, she has already been murdered ...
Mark receives a call from his sister Rose to come to New York
immediately, however, not long after she has made the call, she is killed
as well and her book is taken away by teh killer as well.
When Mark arrives at Rose's appartment, he doesn't find his sister but
also no traces of her murder, only Rose's neighbour Elise (Daria Nicolodi)
hints at it that there's something wrong ... but she doesn't last long
either. Nor does the antiques dealer whom Mark next questions - he dies a
particularly gruesome death being eaten up alive by rats.
Ultimately all hell breaks loose when the whole building goes up in
flames and Mark, still in the building, faces a woman who calls herself
the embodiment of the three mothers, but also of Death. However,
Mark manages to save himself from the building, while Death goes up in
On the plus side, Inferno is highly atmospheric and totally
creepy, and Dario Argento (once again) shows why he is one of the best
directors in the field and how playing with colours, music (both classical
and progressive rock) and sound can create mood and menace. Mix this with
some excellent suspense scenes and cleverly placed gore effects and you
have got one effective shocker.
Having said that, Inferno falls several feet short from being a
masterpiece though, mainly because it doesn't contain any real characters
to identify with (usually not a problem of Argento's films). All the
female characters in the film actually die before they can ever fully
develop (that's not to say they are cannonfodder in the slasher kind of
way, they just die to soon) while the male lead (Leigh McCloskey as Mark)
stays totally bland throughout, and one can't help not caring for him -
for which both the script and the totally uncharismatic McCloskey are to
The other letdown of Inferno is of course its ending: after all
the buildup the story had, it's actually quite disappointing that the lead
villain, who turns out to be Death, accidently dies in a very common fire.
I mean, how can Death die ?
That all said, Inferno is still a fascinating piece of horror
cinema, it's just no genre masterpiece and shouldn't be viewed as one.