Dario Argento isn't trying anymore. That's the only explanation for this nonsense. His last few films have been shot on video, shoddily written, and show all the effort of a 7-year-old shoveling the driveway. He's old and tired, still insane in the sense that his scripts have the cohesion of a half-remembered episode of G.I. Joe, but disinterested in all the things that made his movies fun in the first place. Without gore or the wildly inventive visual style that made films like Susperia and Opera viewable, all we're left with is plots that would confuse a chaos mathematician, and actors whose use even as a moveable prop would be debatable.
In this particular installment in Argento's journey from horror auteur to high school kid with video camera, Julian Sands and Argento's daughter Asia star in an adaptation of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. And by adaptation, I mean rough approximation, the sort of thing you might write if you've never read the book, but your roommate really likes the musical and plays the soundtrack every morning while he gets ready to go to the gym. It bears a rough similarity to the novel, though as I recall the Phantom was somewhat disfigured and hadn't been raised by rats like a rodent version of The Penguin. For some reason, my guess is either a second mortgage or alimony, Julian Sands is in this movie, perhaps expecting to parlay his roles in Arachnophobia and Warlock into a career in B movies on the continent. He has an English accent, which invariably commands both respect and the desire to eat spotted dick, but the Fabio hairstyle is starting to clash rather harshly with a face swollen from Vicodin and alcohol, like Conan the Barbarian has gone puffy and fey. But while that might stand at odds with the perception of the darkly brooding Phantom, it certainly matches Asia Argento's look like a brown belt does leather shoes.
Asia is, of course, pure, unadulterated Euro-trash of the worst kind, the type that takes their title seriously, mixing the aristocratic, spoiled haughtiness of their continental stereotype with the type of skanky classlessness that licks the mirror after a coke binge. And it's the way you imagine her tonguing the mirror that's so disgusting, like she'd be looking you in the eyes, daring you to imagine your phallus between her gap teeth, when in reality you're just wondering how this dog-faced woman got into the dinner party, and why one of her tits is hanging out of her shirt. The whole movie, she seems barely capable of looking at her co-stars instead of leering at the camera like one of those girls in the phone sex ads on cable TV after midnight. I can't for the life of me imagine why she would be doing that. Why would I want to call her? I can barely look at her. She looks like a pig in an ill-fitting mini-skirt, pink and slutty, to be sure, but I'm of a different species than Euro-trash. Not to say that I'm better, I just prefer standard white trash to the European variety. Sure, the latter has rich parents that can afford better drugs, but there's something in the desperation of a truck stop hooker's eyes as she goes down on you for crystal meth that really turns my crank. Turns hers, too, if her dealer hasn't blown up his trailer yet. And while both hide generations of inbreeding under poorly applied makeup, the smoky eye shadow of the Eurotrash is a poor substitute for the blackened eyes of the white trash woman, as one is merely cosmetic, and the other a mark that the housebreaking process has already begun. In short, the allure of the Eurotrash, her Stoli Vodka, and the title to her land pales in comparison to the promise of toothless fellatio from someone who can probably go a week without sleeping, or probably breathing. Plus, she'll be so drug addled she'll barely be able to ask for food, let alone complain about the servants, or lack thereof. Who knows, maybe she'll be confused enough to understand Phantom of the Opera.