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FILM REVIEW: Dario Argento Panico (2024)

Dario Argento Panico - New Release Review

Director: Simone Scafidi

Starring: Dario Argento, Asia Argento, Fiore Argento, Guillermo Del Toro, Gasper Noé, Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by: Simone Scafidi, Manlio Gomarasca, Davide Pulici

Produced by: Giada Mazzoleni, Daniel Bolcato

Cinematography by: Patrizio Saccò

Original Score by: Alessandro Baldessari


Legendary filmmaker Dario Argento is interviewed by a film crew in a lavish hotel while he writes his latest film.

Dario Argento Panico Film Review


For someone who famously directed his intense and unnerving films in an intense and unnerving manner, Dario Argento now comes across as a timid, reclusive older man who prefers the silence of his own company. 'Panico' attempts to decipher Argento's career in cinema and his family life through talking head interviews with the man himself, his daughters, his peers and his famous fans.

Dario Argento sits in the back of a chauffeured car with his manager as they make their way to the beautiful five star QC TermeRoma hotel and even only in the company of a friend and work colleague Argento seems uneasy. Perhaps even afraid. And as the documentary progresses we will soon find out that fear is something that the filmmaker has lived with for a very long time.

Dario Argento in a hotel room in Dario Argento Panico

The documentary initially begins in a very cinematic way, briefly intercutting scenes from 'Suspiria' with his journey and eventual arrival at the hotel destination. But it's not long until we revert to the more traditionally, structured documentary format when he begins to talk about his mother Elda Luxardo, a famous photographer of the stars and his father Salvatore, a film producer who helped give him his big break in the industry as a director.

We move through the years talking about each big step in his career with the help of his daughters Asia and Fiore, his sister Floriana, his work colleagues including Lamberto Bava, Michelle Soavi, Franco Ferrini, and some of his biggest fans in Guillermo Del Toro, Gasper Noé and Nicolas Winding Refn. Some of these interviews offer little snippets into Argento's approach to filmmaking and it's always a great pleasure to hear Del Toro speak about his fellow filmmakers in an intellectual and educating way. But perhaps the most interesting talking head comes from Cristina Marsillach, the lead actress from Argento's 1987 classic 'Opera', in which, through tears, she states her admiration for the director and his influence on her life and career, even though their relationship ended up being a bumpy one. Her segment is short but honest and heartfelt and she clearly still holds an adulation for Argento, who she saw as a father figure, despite the tension.

Cristina Marsillach and Dario Argento in Opera

Asia Argento's talking heads are also a huge insight into the man behind the myth. A father who, in the wake of fame and notoriety, still did his best to provide for his two children as equally and honestly as he could. I also enjoyed seeing Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame, who reveals how his initial working relationship with Argento came about. Basically Pink Floyd were too busy.

Asia Argento in Dario Argento Panico

While 'Panico' is an interesting and enjoyable exploration into the career of one of cinemas most beguiling filmmakers, it isn't quite as in-depth as I'd hope it to be. With the alarming revelation that Argento often had suicidal thoughts in his hotel rooms during filming being one of the only exceptions, the documentary basically just tiptoes through his most iconic and notorious years but without giving the director any time to really discuss those iconic and notorious films himself.

Ultimately at just over 90 minutes in length, 'Panico' sadly feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to deliver a truly definitive in-depth career analysis of one of the worlds most influential and fascinating filmmakers.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

-Gavin Logan

'Dario Argento Panico' streams exclusively on Shudder February 2nd


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