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Review Aenigma (1987): A downright mess that is only enjoyable in parts!

genre: giallo, horror, thriller






Aenigma is a hodgepodge of several films like Carrie, Patrick and Suspiria done in a good old giallo style. Actually, it is a giallo with supernatural elements. Does sound interesting and exciting right?

It certainly is interesting. But exciting? I am conflicted about that. You see Aenigma does some things that are bizarre and compelling. However it's how those ideas are executed that ruin the fun. It's like Fulci didn't care any more and could not be bothered to put in that extra effort. Does make sense considering he was quite sick and very likely had other things to worry about. But that doesn't change the fact that Aenigma is filled with weird and bizarre events that are rich with potential but come out flat on the screen. Speaking of Fulci. He briefly appears in his film as a reporter to never been seen again. You can tell that he was not in good health. 

Aenigma is also very confusing for the most part since it's not always clear when comatose Kathy (Milijana Zirojevic) is responsible for the deaths or her mother since she also seems to be possessing powers. Don't bother figuring out why they are capable of these powers in the first place since it never gets explained. But if I had to guess they are both witches who want to take their revenge. Most important to realize is that Kathy has possessed Eva Gordon (played by Lara Lamberti a.k.a.Lara Naszinsky) and through her acts out her revenge on the ones who done her wrong. And they deserve every bit of it. They are horrible and nasty people who have humiliated her just because she is the daughter of the maid and that they think she is ugly. In my opinion she wasn't at all and very likely they were jealous of her. Why else would they go to such lengths to humiliate her? What's even worse is that apart from one girl not any of them show remorse or regret concerning Kathy's accident. They even laugh at her tragedy. Truly despicable people. So it is safe to say I was looking forward to their deaths. 

It is these deaths that will astonish you since they are so underwhelming and far from deadly that it almost is miraculous the victims have died in the first place. In one scene snails are used. Even when looking slimy and far from appetizing they hardly were scary or menacing. It wasn't quite clear what they were doing to the girl but it was stated that she had suffocated. I assume they had paralysed her and then waited to crawl in her mouth to prevent her from breathing. Does beg the question why she did not keep her mouth closed. Honestly when I saw this I did not know whether to laugh or cry since even for Fulci this was incredibly bad. Still I think the attempt to be creative should count for something. 

Fulci made one big mistake concerning Eva. He should have shown her before her possession so that we would know the difference between Eva and Kathy. Because sometimes it did look like Eva was herself only adding to the confusion. It doesn't help that the film gets sidetracked by a romance between Eva (actually Kathy) and Dr. Robert Anderson (played by Jared Martin). Kathy completely forgets about her revenge and murder plans and goes full relationship mode. At first Dr. Robert is a bit overwhelmed by this sudden love. Then he embraces it. Although one has to wonder how sincere he was since it only takes a few days of separation for him to be over Eva (actually Kathy) and throw himself into another one with Eva's room mate. I understand that Fulci wanted to give Kathy another reason to get into action but it was unnecessary since she already had a damn good one. Not only that she only killed a few of all the people who were there.

I hate to say it but this was a downright mess that only was enjoyable in parts. It lacked suspense, thrills, violence and gore. For a Fulci film this was extremely tame. It's not clear to me what he was trying to do here. So is this a complete waste of time then? That is a tough one. For now I will say yes. It doesn't deliver on the things I want in a giallo. I liked the soundtrack and the heavy Eighties vibe. But the murders while interesting were underwhelming and disappointing. That is a big no no when it comes to giallo's.   

BTW if you want to see more of Lara Lamberti I can recommend A Blade in the Dark which is a very underrated giallo.




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