Door into Darkness

3 out of 5

Created by: Dario Argento

Dario Argento presents – and partially writes and directs – four “doors” into purportedly twisted happenstances: four hour-long, standalone giallo episodes. These are of varying quality, and moreso draped in giallo, if you’re expecting Argento excesses, but still, I’d watch the heck out of a modern day series like this: an Alfred Hitchcock Presents done up in Italiano, jazz-scored, languidly murder mysteries. I guess you could argue that the 2020-era Twilight Zone reboot, or Black Mirror, or even Shudder’s Creepshow show, offer something similar, in that they’re anthologies with macabre edges, but the fantasy / sci-fi / horror trappings lend a certain eye-rolling overkill to most of those; at a stretch, you could relate something like Law & Order to a show like Door into Darkness – episodic crimes – but the loose character arcs of series like that prevent the openness something like Door benefits from: you can enter each episode with a whole new set of rules.

And that happens: we get slowburn, bomb-under-the-table suspense in the first episode; something of a comedy in the second episode; a twisty-turny-bizarre-y psychological thriller (that’s dumb as tacks, unfortunately); and then – in the best episode – a more traditional giallo, with good scares and some splashes of blood. The two standouts happen to be the one’s written and directed by Argento, but all of them – even the dumb as tacks one – have a ton of style, mapped to the tone of the episode. And there’s a unique feeling to the series (maybe excepting dumb-as-tacks): everyone comes across as very human; the pacing and action is rather true to life feeling and “normal,” which makes the sloooow uncoiling of occurrences more interesting – more relatable – than if they were splashed across the screen in a more showy, and dare I say American, style.

So while this show isn’t a hidden gem, necessarily, it’s very unique feeling, and, as mentioned, isn’t really something I feel like I’ve seen before. That’s worthwhile enough, and then with a couple of skillfully Argento-helmed presentations tossed into the mix, it’s definitely an enjoyable watch.