Having ventured into Transylvania for his debut Katalin Varga, British writer-director Peter Strickland delivers this equally enterprising fictional exploration of the furthest reaches of 1970s Italian horror cinema.
Indefatigable character actor Toby Jones takes centre stage as the mild-mannered English sound recordist working in a Rome dubbing studio on The Equestrian Vortex – a terrifyingly graphic tale of witchcraft and debauchery its director claims is some masterpiece of historical reconstruction.
Proving equal to the task involves no little anxiety as the narrative traces the newcomer’s psychological disintegration, though the originality of the film is actually in the way it teasingly ponders how our responses to the screen are significantly conditioned by what we hear. Strickland offers up a lovingly detailed tribute to the world of Dario Argento et al (just check out the uncannily accurate title sequence and theme music), while at the same time questioning filmmakers’ and audiences’ fascination with such extreme subject matter. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)