The debut film of Argentinean director Luciano Onetti, Sonno Profondo represents not just a labour of love- as Onetti also writes, acts, films and creates the music- but the film is also a worthy entry to the genre itself.
Following a killer who has been traumatised from childhood, the masked assailant receives a mysterious envelope after murdering a woman. Leading to the hunter becoming the hunted, as he discovers that the envelope contains photos showing him killing the young woman and that now, his life is on the line as the witness does not attempt to blackmail but rather wants revenge, leading to a brutal game of cat and mouse.
Shot in a stylish, authentic 1970s tone, Onetti gets the cinematography spot on and with a clear Argento influence combined with a fantastic free-form jazz score, Sonno Profondo does not take long to get started when an almost sleazy female masturbation scene quickly turns into that of a frantic attack, all while set to a sound reminiscent of Morricone’s work on ‘Four Flies In Grey Velvet’, before being brought to an abrupt end with a final act of violence.
The link between the visual and audio is quite prevalent throughout the film, as soon after a Goblin-esque track, circa-1975 Profondo Rosso, kicks in as the film introduces itself, setting high expectations in the viewer and futher highlighting the importance of sound within this film and the genre in itself.
Similar to many contemporary gialli or films in the filone (Amer, Berberian Sound Studio, Symphony In Blood Red), there is very little dialogue, and even fewer characters yet the director still managers to create an engaging and often tense film, with Onetti to be commended on his screenplay from which the atmosphere far exceeds the budget and delivers something that would have surely stood out even in the early 1970s period.
However, as mentioned, (unintentional) similarities to fellow Argento admirer, Luigi Pastore’s 2010 giallo, Symphony in Blood Red are clear, as both feature a heavy weighting on the character and psychological state of the killer rather than an amateur detective while eschewing traditional narrative or genre plot conventions. Although it is there that the similarities between these two end as both directors have very different, unique styles.
Despite not following the conventional giallo story arcs, this mystery thriller does still pay homage to many of the clichés of the genre, from razor blades and black gloves to a bottle of J&B and childhood trauma, and yet rather than seeming like these have been included simply because they should, they exist in the film because they need to, and as such the film never feels contrived as it seeks to recreate the bygone golden era.
Meanwhile, the film also benefits through some fantastic shots, ranging from the functional to the surreal, reminiscent of Martino in his early 1970s gialli while the killer is from the Argento school; the influences however clear never over-power and Onetti combines elements of the style of both directors to make something wholly unique yet firmly in the giallo filone.
Overall Sonno Profondo is a tense, disturbing and artistic neo-giallo which keeps one (black-gloved) hand firmly in the past as it pays tribute to the masters of old, in particular Argento and Martino. Coming in at a short 67 minutes, the film never outstays its welcome and despite the limited dialogue and plot there exists an engaging mystery which Onetti leads us through until the end and as you piece the together the plot, you realise that it is not so far removed from the stories of the traditional gialli after all.