Davide Melini’s New Giallo Short Film ‘The Puzzle’

In case you’re not one of the cool kids and haven’t been reading my regular column on giallo film at my other writing haunt, Horror Squad, go here to read the first post in an ongoing series of reviews and giallo tidbits. In my write up, I give a detailed rundown about the Italian film genre, but let me summarize what this amazing film genre is all about.

From ye olde Wikipedia: Giallo is an Italian 20th century genre of literature and film, which in Italian indicates crime fiction and mystery. In the English language, however, it is used in a broader meaning that is closer to the French fantastique genre, including elements of horror and eroticism.
The word giallo is Italian for “yellow” and stems from the origin of the genre as a series of cheap paperback novels with trademark yellow covers.

The new generation of giallo filmmakers continue to expand upon its unique presence in cinematic history. Giallo is ever growing and evolving but has always been a hybrid of genres, most notably, horror, thriller and detective story. Stylish and seductive, giallo is an elaborate and symbolic exploration into a world of dreams and nightmares.

Italian screenwriter and director, Davide Melini, has made an admirable contribution to giallo film in a new short film, only 5 minutes long. That’s almost no surprise considering he worked as an Assistant Director on Dario Argento’s The Mother of Tears. He also comes from a family of acting and filmmaking professionals, steeped in Italian cinema. His new short, The Puzzle, made the festival rounds and was included in 14 final spots, including a 3rd place win at the Rome International Film Festival. He is currently working on a new short, The Sweet Hand of the White Rose. If that title isn’t giallo I don’t know what is.

In The Puzzle, A woman refuses to give money to her son and afterwards decides to relax with her favorite pastime–making puzzles. However, this simple table game hides strange features that turn her peaceful night into a nightmare.

Melini achieves all the intensity and the trademarks of giallo with dramatic lighting, a creepy score, and floating camerawork which lends a dreamy quality. We even see a gloved hand! There is some nice symbolic imagery, like a shot of a stove top range–which at first almost resembles a red rope. Melini opts for fast cuts and a more frantic pace to illustrate this dark tale which could be a result of the film’s length (it only took one night to shoot), but feels appropriate and intentional.

Since the film is short, I don’t want to divulge all the details, but there are some striking moments and Melini does an excellent job building tension. In only 5 minutes, Melini has created something far more interesting than most of what Hollywood has to offer. I’m hopeful he can achieve the same in a full length feature. Check out the short below and let me know what you think. Please visit Melini’s website for more information.

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