Amer (2009)

Visually and viscerally, “Amer” is a film that is a throwback to the classic Giallo thrillers, but deep down it is much more of an academic breakdown of the Giallo sub-genre and not so much a straight forward giallo film. True it has shades of the visual flourishes with uses of color and specific dashes of sharp editing that suck us in to the narrative, all the while invoking memories of “Suspiria” and “Tenebre” upon which both directors call on to create something of an evocative sexual thriller, in the end. “Amer” is admittedly an exhausting film and that counts as a criticism and a recommendation.

While I’m never one to pigeon hole a film, “Amer” is strictly for the film buffs who are more prone to de-constructing genres than sitting through a film that is adhering to genre trappings. With only ten percent dialogue, “Amer” is strictly a movie based around sound, and color, and one that keeps audiences motivated through its thick pastels and unforgiving solid representations of moods through bold hues of red and blues expressing emotions and sexuality as a threat and a seduction. “Amer” is a French born giallo that portrays in three acts the evolution of a young girl through sexual exploration and a looming evil, both of which are connected through periods of her life and constantly threaten to end her existence. Always on the brink of giving in to her unbridled lust, Ana is a girl who has seen evil and sexual thrills in her youth coming face to face with death and a wicked evil embodied in a laced figured and a dead body, both of which inspire her to seek out the darkness and also maintain it within her.

This is shown through her escapades venturing in to the wilderness of the world that is filled with numerous threats including dangerous bikers, stalkers in the woods and enigmatic taxi drivers, all of whom pose a threat and a form of enticement for the young woman who continues narrowly avoiding this evil at every turn. Directors Cattet and Forzani’s film is visually amazing and one that will either annoy audiences or enthrall them as it more often revels in being a practice in giallo methodology and sexual symbology than it does in posing as a horror film with a routine killer.

Marked with an excellent score hearkening back to Argento and Fulci, the story is kept on a constant tense pacing and framing that will grab audiences and force their emotions to the surface through stunning sweeps of French landscape and riveting close-ups that define this as a notch above a typical horror film. in the end, “Amer” works more as a moving piece of art than a typical horror thriller, and it’s a look at a woman fighting sexuality and being faced with giving in to it and its dark trappings. Anyone looking for a bonafide giallo movie with grue and thrills will find “Amer” to be quite polarizing as it is mostly an experiment in the devices and moods of the classic giallo than an actual one in the surface. Nevertheless, this French erotic thriller is a marvelous work of moving art, and one I suggest for film students and cineastes alike.