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[FrightFest Glasgow 2024] FILM REVIEW: The Well

Updated: Mar 11

The Well - FrightFest Glasgow 2024 UK Premiere Review


Director: Federico Zampaglione

Starring: Lauren LaVera, Claudia Gerini, Jonathan Dylan King, Linda Zampaglione


Written by: Federico Zampaglione, Stefano Masi

Produced by: Stefano Masi

Cinematography by: Andrea Arnone

Original Score by: Oran Loyfer


Synopsis:

When an art restorer travels to a small Italian village to bring a medieval painting back to its former glory, she ends up placing her life in danger from an evil curse and a monster born of myth and brutal pain.


The Well Film Review

Thoughts:

Federico Zampaglione has been nicknamed "the Italian Rob Zombie" (I'll let you decide whether that's a compliment or an insult) and while I didn't fully get the comparison straight away, there is definitely a connection between the two filmmakers in how they pay homage to the films they grew up on. While Zombie's early projects are unmistakably inspired by American exploitation films from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper, 'The Well' is an impressively gory tribute to European cinema of the late 70s and 80s and in particular the works of Italian director Dario Argento. It's not a Giallo by any means but there are resemblances in how the film is shot and edited, particularly on specific set pieces.



Lisa Gray (the fantastic Lauren LaVera) is a young art restorer sent by her father to the small village of Sambuci in Lazio, Italy to help restore an ancient painting owned by Emma (Claudia Gerini) that hangs in her mansion homestead. It's a huge painting and Lisa admits it could take about a month to complete but Emma is on a strict deadline and needs it finished in 2 weeks. Determined and resolute, Lisa promises to get the job done on behalf of her legendary father's company. Emma is clearly a very wealthy woman and this is clearly an extremely important job that Lisa has been asked to do.


Lauren LaVera and Claudia Gerini in The Well

Shortly after Lisa begins the restoration she starts to have horrid nightmares and visions that become so unbearable that she wants to leave the home immediately and return at a later date. But Emma forbids it.



This is when Lisa has a deep conversation with Emma's elusive young daughter Giulia who explains that the painting is actually cursed and that Lisa must leave as soon as possible or some really bad things are going to happen. Lisa does't leave and you've guessed it...bad things DO start happening.



There are a bunch of creepy scenes with one character especially making my skin crawl. At least one jump scare made my butt clench and another scene featuring a nail and a female character's foot that almost made me gag. I think it was probably more because of the suddenness of it that got me.



Zampaglione doesn't hold back on the gore and violence here and the practical blood effects and ripping skin is probably what most people will remember about the film. The effects are very good although there is one or two shots in a particular scene that makes one of the creature's mask look a bit flimsy. And sadly the story is a bit flimsy too. It's got classic gothic sensibilities when it comes to the storytelling aspect (and in many respects the actual look of the film) but it didn't quite grab me. The horrific creature at the heart of the monstrosities that are occurring is absolute vile and even the hulking henchman killer who mans the deep, dark prison is horrifyingly violent, like a rabid beast wearing an obese man's costume. Although his physical ticks and vocal mannerisms were sort of both chilling and hilarious in equal measures.


Melanie Gaydos in The Well

Outside of LaVera the acting is a bit hammy at times too, which I guess is another similarity to a lot of Argento films. The score might be one of the scariest things about the film. It's super tense and foreboding and helps to enhance the more terrifying sequences when it needs to but is a bit inconsistent at times too in that some of the song choices didn't quite work for me. The finale of the film, which has some interesting camera angle choices, is both chaotic and frustrating but is full of tense moments.


'The Well' is a pretty effective supernatural horror film that perhaps relies a little too much on it's gory scenes instead of focusing in on LaVera's harrowing journey.


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️½


-Gavin Logan


'The Well' received it's UK Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow on March 9th

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