- 1 hr 50 min
In 1985, director Dario Argento released Phenomena, a horror movie that would become a cult classic in the genre. The film stars Jennifer Connelly in her breakout role as main character Jennifer Corvino, a young girl who travels to a boarding school in the Swiss countryside. There, she discovers her unique ability to communicate with insects, which soon becomes crucial in identifying a serial killer who is murdering young girls in the area.
Phenomena is a quintessential Argento movie, full of the directorâs signature stylistic flourishes and bold visual choices. From the striking opening shot of a bug crawling over a razor blade, to the gruesome murder sequences that take place throughout the film, Argento creates a creepy, unnerving atmosphere that pulls the viewer in from the start. The movieâs startling score, composed by Argento and frequent collaborator Claudio Simonetti, complements the action on screen perfectly, adding an extra layer of dread to an already tense story.
At its heart, Phenomena is a coming-of-age tale that uses horror elements to explore themes of isolation, friendship, and inner strength. Jennifer Corvino is a fascinating character, a young woman who learns to embrace her own unique abilities in a world that is often indifferent (or worse) to those who are different. Connelly brings a wonderful vulnerability to the role, making it easy for audiences to connect with and root for Jennifer as she faces off against the killer and his various accomplices.
Another highlight of Phenomena is Donald Pleasenceâs performance as John McGregor, a wheelchair-bound entomologist who is enlisted by Jennifer to help her track down the killer. Pleasence, who had previously worked with Argento on the classic thriller âHalloween,â turns in a nuanced, compelling performance that is both funny and tragic. McGregor is a man consumed by his intellect, but also plagued by regret and guilt over events in his past. Pleasence brings a depth to the character that elevates him beyond the typical âwise old manâ archetype often seen in genre films.
Daria Nicolodi, who co-wrote the script with Argento, also shines in her role as Frau BrÃ¼ckner, the stern headmistress of the boarding school. Nicolodi imbues the character with a sinister quality, making her a possible suspect in the murders and adding to the sense of paranoia and mistrust that pervades the film. As the story progresses, however, BrÃ¼ckner becomes a more complex figure, and Nicolodiâs performance reflects this evolution beautifully.
One of Phenomenaâs most memorable sequences takes place in an underground tunnel, where Jennifer is pursued by the killer while desperately trying to communicate with the flies that swarm around her. The combination of Connellyâs intense physicality, Simonettiâs driving score, and Argentoâs dynamic camerawork makes for a truly thrilling scene that ranks among the directorâs finest moments.
Overall, Phenomena is a must-see for fans of Italian horror and anyone looking for a classic â80s scarefest. With its unforgettable characters, striking visuals, and eerie soundtrack, the film is a masterclass in suspense and atmosphere that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Whether youâre a long-time horror devotee or a newcomer to the genre, Phenomena is a movie that you wonât soon forget.
Phenomena is a 1985 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7 and a MetaScore of 57.