Sororal (2014) Review

sororal1GRIMMFEST 2014: SORORAL (Australia, 2014)

Dir- Sam Barrett

Starring- Amanda Woodhams, Austin Castiglione, Vito De Francesco

Australia already has a rich heritage of genre cinema, and it’s good to see them finally entering the Giallo territory, with SORORAL, and on the day of the screening of SUSPIRIA with Goblin playing the live soundtrack, this makes a nice build up before the main event. Yes the film does carry many significant Giallo traits, but at the same time some of it gets lost in style over content and does conclude on an uneven slightly implausible note, but as giallo is a genre built a lot on style and implausibility, there are still some parts of the film to appreciate.

Our main heroine is Cassie, an artist, who has some personal traumas that have affected her. She creates garish paintings that seem to depict murders. Yet Cassie sees these murders in visions that cause her to have a kind of seizure and experience the killings from the point of view of the attacker. Are these visions just dreams, somehow, or are they real. It’s only until the arrival of a slightly mysterious detective, Fabrizzi (De Francesco), who reveals that the murders are real and shows Cassie that there is a pattern to the killings as well as revealing photos of the victims, who Cassie instantly recognises.

It’s not long before she has to face her disturbing visual traumas and at the same time stop the killer from committing the murders and from hurting her close acquaintances and in particular her ex-lover who is marrying one of Cassie’s friends, all leading to a conclusion and twist that at times, certainly fits the Grimmfest fringe moniker of ‘Head Fuck’ films that SORORAL was playing as part of, as alongside Giallo child-like psychos, we get telekinetic power struggles and a loose plot involving genetic experimentation .

sororal2First of all the visuals in this film are beautifully done, they are bathed in colours of green and red adding a trippy psychedelic feel to the action, and certainly add a strong visual style. Barrett certainly knows how to handle the murder scenes well, staging them in a classic giallo set up, with the audience witnessing the killings from Cassie’s point of view.

The problem with the film is that it tends to float off in the style, and this becomes more of the centre piece of the film, which can work when it’s done well, but in SORORAL the style does tend to overtake the piece and start to slow down the pacing of the film, and myself certainly felt slight frustration with the pacing of certain scenes. This is not to say the film is terrible, I still liked parts of the style and look of the film, and it’s good to see that the setting is not explicitly made clear, but most likely the setting is 70’s Australia (possibly), partly from the fashion of some of the characters, and some certain scenes reek of the style of the decade.

This is further emphasised with the appearance of bottles of J & B, the Giallo films drink of choice, and a nice sly reference. On top of that the soundtrack certainly has a Goblin esque style and which I did enjoy, and if anything certainly emphasises or highlights how Goblin or Goblin esque style soundtracks fit well with Giallo horror. The film concludes though (without giving too much away) on a slightly absurd silly note, which seems to eclipse the madness and surreal elements revealed in the latter part of the picture, and also developments which occur that are then left unresolved, that seem to make the ending of the film come across as slightly rushed, as if they wanted to end it on a light note, but what we end up with is something that seems more on the side of the daft and slightly sentimental.

sororal3Admittedly for all its faults, SORORAL is not bad in parts and I preferred this Giallo throwback to the most recent TULPA (2012) which was a complete mess. As admittedly Barrett’s film does veer in the category of the absurd and seems to cram many plot twists and changes into one film that drags it down slightly, yet it does have some nice stylistic touches, a very good soundtrack and an obvious and affectionate appreciation for the style of Giallo.

5.5/ 10

James Pemberton

About James Pemberton

James has been a horror fan ever since he was 6 when he used to watch hammer horror films on late night tv. He is currently living and working in Manchester, occasionally gets work on helping out with short films and music videos, and in his other spare time like to go to heavy metal gigs, cinema and horror film festivals and has attended Frightfest in London 3 years in a row, as well as Frightfest Glasgow, and Grimm up North festival. He is planning on trying to get to either Fantasia in Montreal or Sitges in Spain, some point in his life!
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