Mother of Tears
by Evan ODell 3/14/09
(La Terza Madre) (2007) Directed by Dario Argento. Written Jace Anderson, Dario Argento, Walter Fasano, Adam Gierasch, and Simona Simonetti. Starring Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Udo Kier, Robert Madison, and Jun Ichikawa.
The Third Mother, as the film is called in Italian, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2007 just before midnight and Dario Argento's 67th birthday. It had been 27 years since the last installment of The Three Mothers Trilogy, Inferno. Thirty-one years had passed since Suspiria. I managed to see it at an independent theater in Dallas when it had a limited U.S. release in June of this year.
This installment didn't feature Argento's use of stylistic colored lighting, though there was a little use of red in the end. Claudio Simonetti of Goblin is back to do the score, one I enjoyed a bit more than keyboard prog-rocker, Keith Emerson's score for Inferno. Though still not as much as the original Goblin soundtrack for Suspiria.
The Mother of Tears increases the level of gore and sadism to new heights. With Inferno, it was established that the area surrounding one of Valleti's witches houses would "eventually become deathly and plague-ridden, so much so that the area all around will reek horribly." This is the first of the Three Mothers Trilogy that really takes advantage of that with murders, riots, and acts of sadism and masochism around every corner. Warning, there are also scenes of violence upon babies and toddlers. When our heroine enters the catacombs, the demonstrations of violence begin to take on more of a medieval depiction of hell. There are also acts of violence that are made to resemble those of the Inquisition and Christian martyrdom including the Crucifixion.
Mother of Tears is perhaps the most thrilling in the trilogy. It is certainly the most unintentionally hilarious. Some of the story elements are kind of absurd, like the monkey, whom if you believe Argento in interviews is more than an animal familiar like in Harry Potter, but a full fledged witch. The story is also terribly simplistic and full of horror tropes including 3 or 4 in the first ten minutes; magical urn, unintentional spilling of blood on object of evil, ignorant recitation of ancient words, etc... Israeli actress, Moran Atia as the titular Mother of Tears, looks great naked but isn't the most convincing actress. There is also an instance of exposition about previous acts of violence surrounding the third mother that is frustratingly told in pen and ink drawings. Also, many witches are arriving to usher in the third age of witches. Apparently being a witch means wearing to much make-up, laughing hysterically, and generally acting like they're at a hair dresser's convention. Yet, somehow I find myself embracing it because of the sheer thrill of the ride.
Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) is an American studying art in Rome. When her mentor Giselle (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) opens an urn found in a graveyard containing ritual tokens of power from the Mother of Tears, the witch awakens and her minions are sent to kill her and return the urn. When Sarah's involvement leads to the kidnapping of her boyfriend's son, she begins to go from one expert to another in an attempt to end the nightmare chain of events that started at the museum. Along the way, her mother Elisa Mandy (Daria Nicolodi) appears to her from beyond the grave to coach her in how to use the force, um that is, white witch powers before the Mother of Tears can bring about the third age of witches.