Pushed by her greedy agent to finish writing her gruesome story, the renowned writer Gianna Baldini reluctantly journeys back to her childhood home, where her family had been massacred by a psychopath. Once she is back, the murders resume, or do they?
When writer/director Chris Rakotomamonjy told me that he was sending me a giallo for review, I nodded and pretended that I knew what he was talking about. As an industry professional, we need to keep up appearances and know everything about everything…so to google I went. The description of the giallo film genre led me to thinking it something along the lines of Sleuth (1972) or maybe something more film noir. Watching The Rebel Lady with the Dark Secrets, I realised that I was only partially correct and that I’d actually seen a few of the films in this genre a decade or so ago.
If you, like me, have ever had the inkling to explore strange and cult-classic cinema, then you may have unwittingly viewed some giallo films in the past without realising it. The Rebel Lady with the Dark Secrets reminded me a lot of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), though a little research revealed that it was Argento’s Deep Red (1975) that was the true giallo. Malabimba (1979), La Bête (1975), and La rose de fer (1973) also crossed my mind while watching this film, but that may have simply being synapses firing due to the stylised 70’s feel of the film and the foreign languages. They did touch on the horror-meets-mystery trope that was big back then and rarely used right today but lacked the traditional candy-apple blood, black leather gloves, knives, robes, and close-up kills.
The film is incredibly well shot for an indie short. The editing, score, camera work—all absolutely top-notch. The casting and the acting are particularly good, which was a pleasant surprise. The last act though starts to get somewhat campy, but I believe that that is pretty typical of the genre so I guess job well done? There’s some solid misdirection, a twist that Shyamalan wishes he’d written, some sexiness and a couple of good, gory moments plus plenty of the traditional whodunit–cloaks, gloves, costumes and all.
The Rebel Lady with the Dark Secrets is a time-capsule back to when cinema had fewer rules and directors took bigger risks. For me, it was a stroll back to when I was looking for obscure, foreign horrors that pushed boundaries and broke social norms; when films didn’t pander to a select crowd but nonetheless pushed the envelope for the sake of progression. It’s a homage to an art form rarely attempted these days and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.