14 June 2024

GRIMMFEST – Film Review – The Goldsmith (2022)

Three unlikable douchebags hatch a plan to steal the contents of a domestic goldsmith’s lab in this Italian home invasion picture that takes familiar subversions of genre tropes and squeezes them through the Euro-shocker meat grinder.

Calculating Arianna, her surly boyfriend Stefano, and their cocaine-addled childhood friend Roberto have a tip-off that an elderly couple has an unguarded stash of jewellery in their house. They already have a cash buyer on standby for the spoils and it seems an easy score.

However, not long after entering the property, it becomes painfully apparent that vulnerability is sometimes a deadly illusion. To survive the night they must avoid turning against each other and face an ever-shifting surge of twisted agendas.

Director Vincenzo Ricchiuto, co-winner of the competition to direct a music video for Robbie Wiliams’s “The 80’s”, makes his feature debut with an indie horror flick about underestimation, misdirection, and the brutality of karma. Ricchiuto has also nestled under the wing of genre legend Abel Ferrara and there are elements of The Goldsmith that reflect this.

The character interactions are grounded and blunt, the visuals are steely and seedy yet sparkle with stylistic flourishes, and the bloody violence is as pragmatic as a well-oiled drill bit. Yet Ricchiuto has much more in his locker than just aping a genre master and his frequently bonkers movie has a malicious sense of fun about it that escapes the orbit of his mentor.

Part The Last House on the Left meets Homebodies and part Tourist Trap meets brit horror, Mum & Dad, there is a campy, almost playfully sinister, bent to the movie that lends it an air of eccentricity that tempers its many mean streaks. At times it plays out like a parrel universe version of Hostel made by Herschell Gordon Lewis. 

There are a few nods to the golden age of Italian horror but most notably it is the sense of the truly bizarre and discombobulating superimposed over a canvas of functional realism that is most evocative of that period.

The relatively small budget means that the filmmakers had to make sensible choices in terms of ambition but the cracks rarely show. The Goldsmith is a tad backloaded as a result and the camera does pull away from the nastiness on occasion which will frustrate those who like their gore up close and gnarly.

That being said, once the movie does commit to the carnage the pace picks up accordingly, and the torture porn antics follow suit in explicitness. It is worth mentioning that viewers with a particular aversion to ocular-based savagery might find things a bit overly traumatic.

The quality cast has been diligently curated and they commit entirely to a script that has a tendency to clunk and grind as it shifts through the narrative gears, despite its plot twist mechanisms being in smooth working order.

Especially pleasing is the wonderful Stefania Casini‘s turn as the goldsmith’s unerringly creepy wife. As an actress who has diced with Warhol, Argento, and Greenaway she gobbles up everything that is fucked up and weird about The Goldsmith and spits out a stylish been there done that performance that is both charming, hilarious, and effortlessly ghoulish.

The Goldsmith is the kind of horror film that keeps you guessing just enough to keep you watching even if you are not quite sure what the fuck is actually going on. Not narratively, you understand but character motivation-wise. Very often this vagueness remains unresolved and can cripple satisfaction levels.

This is not the case with this movie. It turns out the lack of exposition was completely purposeful in order to set up a last-gasp reveal that is genuinely jaw-dropping. The final few frames of which are nightmarish shiver-inducing eye candy personified.

★★★★

INTERNATIONAL  PREMIERE

Home Invasion Horror | Italy, 2022 | 88 mins | Cert. 18 | Minerva Pictures| Dir.Vincenzo Ricchiuto| With: Stefania Casini, Giuseppe Pambieri, Gianluca Vannucci, Tania Bambaci, Mike Cimini, Andrea Porti, Matteo Silvestri, Antonio Cortese


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