A giallo film, "Bloody Ballet", ventures into classic arthouse horror grounds made familiar by the greats - Argento and Martino. The unique spin on the performer's nightmares is directed by Brett Mullen and stars Kendra Carelli, Caroline Williams, Debbie Rochon, and Katie Carpenter. It plays on themes reminiscent of Torso and Suspiria.
After landing the lead role in a performance of "The Nutcracker," a ballerina is forced to face her inner demons when jealousy and tensions provoke the supernatural.
The story is a creative homage to the surrealist style of Italian giallo. The slow, evenly paced drama , balancing between suspense and theatrical, builds a nice gothic horror with slasher level gore. The characters teeter between a mesmerized two-dimensional dream walker, and full-bodied architypes. At times there is a disconnect between story and character play, but things hold together enough to draw you into the story on screen.
Mullens walks a smooth tightwalk between tribute and replicant with his systematic and formulaic approach to the giallo subgenre. Some my cry foul- fighting it a copycat film, but I bought in to "Bloody Ballet" from the first neon washed scene presented in brilliant techno synth- beat for beat.
The special effects are full on practical tricks done wickedly gory and totally visceral. My only complaint is the time it takes between these kill shots. Still the psychological atmosphere and retro inspired cinematography carries enough weight to occupy the viewer- so my complaint isn't a true complaint as much as simple acknowledgement. Add in the epic soundtrack and I am on my back with a twisted grin.
Overall "Bloody Ballet" is a worthy slice of surreal horror that takes you straight back to the glory days of 80's giallo. There are a few flaws, the blend between fantasy, arthouse and realism that plays against one another does get choppy at times. The supernatural element never really steps hard enough away from the psychological realm to be fully realized. Still "Bloody Ballet" is worth watching, and entertainingly horror. (3.5/5)