Lorenzo returns to the town where his father, Dante, The Great, died during an accident on stage during his magic act. Along with his assistant Antonella they bring their own brand of magic back to the theater where the tragedy occured. Just before their arrival a series of murders begin to happen and so far all the clues point back to Lorenzo. Lorenzo goes out on his own to reveal the real murderer and clear his name.
The Onetti Brothers, Luciano and Nico, return for a final stab at the genre which introduced us to the Argentina based filmmakers five years ago. What started with the predominantly first person perspective of Sonno Profondo in 2013 opened up a bit more with 2015’s Francesca. Now the brothers have completed their most realized giallo film of the three, Abrakadabra, marking real progression from that first film five years ago. Along with writer Carlos Golia (What The Waters Left Behind) they present the story of a man haunted by his past, more than he knows, in a race against time to catch a killer.
Within their giallo trilogy the brothers have always displayed a knack for capturing an era. As expected the production design in Abrakadabra is incredible. Dropping the story in 1981, remnants of the 70s still lingering in the costumes and decor. Fair warning though. The brothers have shirked a giallo staple and gone are the traditional leather gloves, replaced by the magician’s go-to white cotton gloves. We know it makes sense because of the characters but it took a couple of kills before we became comfortable with it.
There is no angle that the brothers were not willing to try when it came to the cinematography. Both Luciano and Golia show no restraint when it came to placing the cameras, from low angles at the floor to high angles above their subjects the range of shots is tremendous. Throw in a flurry of gothic angles and a palette of deep contrast between rich colors and pitch blackness and Abrakadabra is a visual stantout. Few filmmakers understand the giallo genre better than the Onettis. It has come to the point where they are no longer paying homage to the genre but now adding their own chapter and voice to it.
Connections between the murder victims may be confusing at first but when the killer is revealed at the end they all make sense. Exploitative elements like sexuality and gore should suffice fans of the genre. Neither are done excessively, save for the ‘who has the time to haul around a small guillotine’ kill at the beginning of the story. But we agree, if you are going to go through all that trouble and set up a small guillotine in your victim’s living room it really should be one of your better kills in the film. Joking aside there is enough their to satiate all your lusts.
With a run time of just over an hour we are on the fence if this is just enough time to tell their story or has it left us wanting more. We know the latter always makes up the best tagline. Abrakadabra tells the story it wants to tell in the time that it needs to and does not overstay its welcome. The story is lean, efficient, saving turmoil to the end when Lorenzo discovers who the killer is. Alluded to in second half by another character in the film when the killer is revealed and the ensuing flashback reveals where it all began your thoughts beckon to all those times you watched magicians pull of the impossible and the crowd always reacts with the same accusation.
The Onettis and Golia have wondered out loud what if, what if that accusation were real and what we get is a bloody and sexy feast for the eyes.
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