“City Of Lust” a.k.a “Yellow” is a modern giallo-horror directed by David A. Holcombe, set in Chicago. The film stars Margaret Grace, Jill Oliver, Derek Ryan, Shelley Nixon, and Kyle Greer. “City Of Lust” tells the story Arianna, a young woman who moves to the city to escape a traumatic family life in the suburbs. She works as a cosmetologist and is showing early signs of formaldehyde poisoning. New to the city and lonely, she reaches out to a female sex line operator. They agree to meet and soon begin a volatile relationship. An altercation at work results in Arianna losing her job. Then, people in her life begin to turn up dead. With Arianna's health, career, and new relationship all disintegrating before her eyes, how much longer can she, and those around her, survive?
The story that Holcombe weaves together, of building a future-facing a dark past-and struggle, is one of nightmares told is surreal horror. From start to finish “City Of Lust” creates a strong, chilling prose. The characters are twisted representations of over-exaggerated flamboyance. The most subdued and grounded character is the mousy Arianna. It as if all her world is developed of dreamlike perversions of her reality. This directorial style gives us a framework that manages to stay dark, even in it’s heightened theatrical state. The camp is even a sinister spin of hypnogogic that reminds me of a blend of cult-camp and Argento’s, 80’s giallo style. It could be off-putting but combined with the deep horror element, “City Of Lust” stays true to the genre.
The special effects is low budget, but done with enough care not to be seen as cheesy. Pretty much every scene where the blood flowed and the body dropped works in “City Of Lust”. Practical effects are used and used the way you expect in a film that is paying tribute to both the classic giallo styles while telling a timeless nightmare of personal transition of a character. There are visual effects that do enhance the surreal into areas of German expressionism, and the avant garde concept direction. Colors, stylized camera angles and shadowing keep everything in specific territory so some people may not get into “City Of Lust”. I loved it but these styles of storytelling hits my sweet spot in horror. A similar feel runs through “Alyce Kills” and I loved that film also.
Sound effects and soundtrack are similar to classic horror films, creating a haunting, emotional atmosphere. The sound effects offer short changes in attitude, raising the suspense of the film while the instrumental soundtrack creates a hypnotic pull. “City Of Lust” doesn’t really give us anything new in these areas but the effects are used right, creating cool crescendos of emotional changes in the story. Thought went into how the sounds were used and when. This film could go either way with horror fans, those that get it –get it and those that won’t get –won’t get it. I found it to be a smart celebration of the elements of the giallo / arhouse horror styles, and gives us a nice bloody horror story with heart.