I must admit, I’m woefully ignorant when it comes to Italian horror films. I’ve seen everything by Lamberto Bava and Lucio Fulci, and I’ve seen the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, but in recent years I haven’t paid much attention to Italian cinema.
Like the blinding morning sunlight through opened bedroom curtains, Mattia de Pascali’s Beyond the Omega is both incredibly harsh and absolutely beautiful. This is a difficult thing to say about a movie that includes such taboo subjects as rape, murder, and necrophilia , but it somehow holds true.
If not for Lorenzo Lepori’s performance, I might not have liked the movie at all. Almost any movie can manage to be shocking if you stuff it full of the aforementioned ingredients, but very few movies can make me empathize with a character’s struggles. Even with a well-written script and a skillful director, it takes the right actor to bring everything to life and communicate what words, lighting, and editing cannot.
Lepori plays Aris, a man who moves submissively through life, seemingly scared of his own shadow, after his wife is brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer who’s still at large. Aris seems to personify every attribute of a beta male, from his quick-to-cower demeanor to his complete sexual impotence. In fact, Aris is so unable to assert himself around other human beings, particularly women, that he purchases a sex doll to make himself feel wanted. But Aris’s loneliness and paranoia spirals quickly toward outright madness, and the sex doll—which he’s named Persephone—comes to life.
I felt sorry for Aris throughout the movie. He’s a man who knows he has mental problems, but he has no idea how to fix them or who he can turn to without being judged. Presumably, this is why he can only function confidently around a sex doll. Even before his wife’s murder, he was a man completely without confidence, and although he struggled to play the proper husband role, she belittled him constantly and chipped away at every bit of confidence he may have had.
Aris’s experiences have had an erosive effect on his lonely reality, but also his imagination—even the living sex doll, who he’s completely responsible for assigning an identity to, rejects him as a man and makes him feel worthless. At first glance this is pretty humorous, but Persephone is especially abusive toward him when he tells her about his deepest fear that someone from outside will break into their home and take her the same way they took his wife. Aris sees himself as a protector, but even in his own imagination he’s nothing but a victim.
Crafty drama and characterization aside, the movie’s also quite gory. A scene involving a chainsaw is particularly gruesome, and the finale is very, very unsettling.
If I were to pitch Beyond the Omega to a casual horror fan, I’d say it’s 1987’s Mannequin meets 1987’s Nekromantik. “Nekromannequin,” maybe? Make of that what you will; it’s definitely worth checking out.
Beyond the Omega is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD in Italy.
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing 31 movies I’ve never seen before. Is there an excellent movie you think I haven’t seen? Tell me in the comments below, and I’ll check it out!