D: Jean Josipovici C: Antonella Lualdi, Gloria Milland, John Drew Barrymore
Something as odd as a proto-giallo written and directed by a professor of philosophy – and it shows! An art film without being arty, it’s a small masterpiece of competent filmmaking. It may be the old warhorse of a benighted group trying to identify a murderer, but there are no thunderstorms, and although no less than fourteen people are staying at the castle, there is only one, off-screen murder. It’s obvious that the whodunit – which is quite well thought out – is not the director’s main concern, the first half of the movie being the most interesting. The characters are bland and superficial, making them easy prey for the sexy Serena’s mind games. Needing further entertainment, they conduct a séance, Serena’s escort, a psychic with a dead animal on his head – played by John Drew Barrymore, son of John and father of Drew – issuing a stern warning before leaving: “The evil. It’s evil. Men will look at themselves from above. Women will change their appearance. They will go back in time. Music. I hear some music. Horrible things.” Soon the prophesy begins to be fulfilled, culminating in the murder of Serena. Shorn of the usual jump scares, and with only mildly menacing servants, the film has a dreamy quality, contrasting the carefree existence of these parasites with their inability to act, thus creating a more claustrophobic atmosphere than any dungeon. Even a couple of carefully orchestrated dance numbers work beautifully in this context. “Crime in the Mirror” refers to the mirror over the four-poster, where Serena’s body is found, whereas the English title suggests soft-porn, which it is not.
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