Donato Carrisi’s “Into the Labyrinth” is now available on DVD and digital download and it looks to appease those looking for a grisly but stylistic psychological-thriller. It has many of the needed pieces in place, but does the premise of this kidnapped girl mysteriously showing up after 15 years weave the compellingly sinister tale it has the potential to?
Where “Into the Labyrinth” Thrives
On premise alone there is plenty of potential for a deeply rooted exploration of a kidnapping and the following search for the psychopath behind it all. The opening act builds plenty of mystery that results in a genuine amount of curiosity as to what happened to this innocent girl. This naturally provokes thought as profiler Dotter Green (Dustin Hoffman) gently tries to pull information from the fragile psyche of Samantha Andretti (Valentina Bellè) while still in her hospital bed. You feel like you’re searching for answers with him, and this creates a charming engagement that was able to quickly lure me into the dark layers of the story-line.
The progression of the plot here follows two paths. You have this profiler searching for answers, and you have a private investigator named Bruno (Toni Servillo) who was working the case years earlier when Samantha was first abducted that has gotten word of her being found. So, there was a layering to the story that effectively captured two elements of a single action, which I found interesting. The film spends time developing each of these plot-lines and it created an inquisitive appeal as to how these two layers of the story would finally cross paths, and in what facet.
Something that overall does help maintain a charming level of mystery as information is slowly sprinkled in. The performances were more than capable. Hoffman was smooth and naturally fit the role despite it not really requiring much from him. Servillo was given the character with more layering. He is dealing with plenty of emotional turmoil both in health, and in the effects this case had on him years ago. This creates a sympathetic connection to him as you can see the impact this case had taken on his life over the years and where it took his career.
There was also a styling to Carrisi’s direction that I found visually appealing. The use of colors and lighting give the film a vibrant appeal that blended with the dark subject matter nicely. It gave the film plenty of artistic appeal, but his techniques never got in the way of the natural flow of the narrative. It was a blend of art-house film, with the story of a somewhat traditional mystery, and I think the combination created an alluring atmosphere for the viewer to escape into.
Where “Into the Labyrinth” Falters
There were issues with this one that ultimately did hinder the enjoyment. It explores Hoffman as he probes Samantha for answers, and it follows Servillo as he restarts his investigation in a second attempt to solve the case that he couldn’t 15 years prior. The progression bounces back-and-forth between these subplots for two-hours and in doing so, it results in a choppy narrative. It spends times trying to unfold both story-lines yet it still fails to truly dive into either one with as much depth as it could have. Thus, making the connective tissue between them lacking the proper layering needed to allow final-act to hit with anything remotely close to the intended dramatic punch.
This was one of those movies that for two-thirds of the run-times keeps a methodical pace while progressing through layers of storytelling. Only to step on the gas in the final-act to try and connect it all, while still hoping to weave in a shocking twist. And like films that usually follow this uneven pacing formula, the final closing here is sadly lacking the emotional intensity it had the potential for. I think had this film spent much more time on one side of the story than the other, that it would’ve made a more lasting impression. Instead of feeling like a jumbled idea not yet cultivated.
Final Verdict on “Into the Labyrinth”
It teases plenty of appealingly sinister elements, dark internal torment, and it does so with plenty of cinematic styling. But it still fails to land with the impact it could have. With everything this one tries to tie together late in the story it feels much more convoluted than intricately sadistic. It has its moments for fans of this genre, but it also has its shortcomings that purists may find make the entire film underwhelming.
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