Mother of Tears (2007)

I’ve never been a fan of Dario Argento. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I watched Suspiria back in college and thought it was one of the most disjointed and senseless movies I’d ever seen. I haven’t seen all of his other work but having watched Mother of Tears, supposedly the final installment in his “Three Mothers Trilogy”, I’m still not impressed even all these years later. I understand part of the problem is my damnable American sensibilities, always demanding that major plot points serve some kind of artistic purpose or have at least a tenuous connection to things that happen before or after, but I was bored out of my gourd. And is it normal to make so many movies that require your daughter to get naked on screen? I submit it is not.

The story: Yikes. Okay, here goes: Sarah (Asia Argento) is the hottest archaeology student in the history of the universe. She and the curator of an art museum in Rome decide to open a strange urn (they keep calling it that but I don’t see how a wooden box equals an urn) that was sent to their boss, an expert on the history of magic and witchcraft. BAD MOVE. The curator rips the lid off but cuts herself in the process, spilling a drop of blood on the box. The highly trained art historian then pops her latex gloves off and goes rifling through the centuries-old relics contained inside with her bare, bloody hands. That seems professional. And hygienic. She reads some arcane words off the side of the thing and moments later an evil monkey appears, heralding the arrival of three hooded hunchbacks who rush in to choke her to death with her own intestines. For those keeping score, that’s the second time this month I’ve seen the intestinal necktie thing.

"Maybe I don't need contacts after all."

Rome starts to go to hell in a hand basket – moms throwing babies off bridges, people stabbing and chewing on each other, all kinds of good stuff. After roughly an hour of excruciating development, we get the idea that the dumbass curator accidentally restored the powers of the accursed Mother of Tears, a very ancient, very naked witch who has the ability to create havoc in the world around her. She’s served by a gang of lesser witches – coven, I believe is the parlance – who look like a bunch of roller derby rejects.

More like Stripper of Tears, amirite?

It gets kookier as Sarah figures out that her mother, Elisa, was herself a powerful white witch who mortally wounded the Mother of Tears’ sister, the Mother of Sighs. So Argento is pushing the idea that somewhere before the heroine confronts the Mother of Sighs at the end of Suspiria, Sarah’s mom dueled her nearly to death off screen, loosening her up for the final scene of the movie. Who do you think you are, Dario, fucking Chekhov? Shameless retroactive continuity if ever I’ve seen it, and all the more baffling because it serves no purpose and the two movies that preceded MoT didn’t need to turn their protagonists into busty Harry Potters to get the job done.

"Even I don't know what the fuck is going on."

Biggest letdown: Whenever I see a European movie filmed in English I always cringe. It’s not just that it makes zero sense that Italians in Rome talk to each other in heavily accented English all the time. Most actors, even good ones, sacrifice a tremendous amount of range when speaking a language other than their native tongue. Arnold Schwarzenegger might have been the Laurence Olivier of Austria for all we know, but when asked to act in English he sounds like he’s choking himself with his own intestines.

Why you should watch: There’s plenty of boobies (the Mother herself is a positively dreadful actor; luckily she prefers to let her tits do the talking), so that’s something. I do have to give Dario credit for some disturbing images (see mother throwing baby off bridge, supra) and a few flawlessly crafted scares. There aren’t many of them, but I definitely jumped out of my seat a bit on more than one occasion. Plus aren’t you just dying to know how the trilogy ends? I’ll give you a hint: Harry and Voldemort square off amid a bloody Bacchanalia that looks about as believably enthusiastic as a North Korean freedom party.

Second unit directed by Kim Jong Il.

Memorable Moment: Here’s something you’d never see in an American horror movie because our moralistic need for heroic main characters is way too simplistic: Sarah stays with some token lesbian witches while on the lam from the coven. One of the Mother’s henchmen (and his monkey) break in. Sarah sees him and bolts, not even bothering to attempt to warn her hosts. She tries to call them from a payphone outside but not in time to prevent the ladies from being vaginally skewered by a four-foot spear. Yick.

Choice quote: “Who wants to eat the girl?”

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7 Responses to “Mother of Tears (2007)”

  1. Who’s the old timer with the green face?

    • who knows! actually he’s one of about seven people Sarah visits on her endless scavenger hunt for knowledge. he too shows his boobs.

  2. For some reason I imagined the beginning taking place in the Sunnydale high school library … but Giles would have never used his bare bloody hands to go through the box. Xander, maybe. Too bad the Buffy gang wasn’t in this movie … might have bumped it up a cone on the quality and nicability scales.

  3. […] Mother of Tears – Dario Argento, father of the year. […]

  4. […] Mother of Tears – Dario Argento, father of the year. […]

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