Tenebrae (Unsane) (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tenebrae (Unsane) (1982)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Despite the lurid slasher-movie trappings of his output, filmmaker Dario Argento has always been able to attract "name" actors to his projects. The Unsane (original title: Tenebrae) stars Anthony Franciosa as a man bedeviled by constant death threats. If Franciosa's unknown nemesis intends to drive his victim crazy, he's certainly doing a bang-up job. As with most of Argento's films, The Unsane concludes with a lovingly detailed bloodbath. Literate dialogue and excellent cinematography (courtesy Luciano Tovoli) elevate this film from the usual slice-and-dice syndrome.

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John Saxon
as Bullmer
Giuliano Gemma
as Detective Germani
John Steiner
as Cristiano Berti
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Critic Reviews for Tenebrae (Unsane)

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (2)

Unpleasant even by contemporary horror standards.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Tenebre is a brilliant piece of self-reflexive cinema.

December 4, 2001 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

I found this movie a little goofy and a little strange but it has a lot of unique characters

June 1, 2021 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

Some outstanding murder set pieces fill a convoluted narrative, but that's par for the course for a giallo, isn't it?

December 29, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

all at once twist-heavy giallo & sophisticated meta-giallo, as Giermani & Neal, in repeatedly discussing the mechanics & modes of Neal's chosen literary form, are also providing a constant commentary on the genre in which they have become involved

May 24, 2020 | Full Review…

Tenebre is essential Argento: perhaps the auteur's clearest articulation of his own psychological and stylistic obsessions, but with a more critical eye.

March 5, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tenebrae (Unsane)


Interesting, but a bit underwhelming.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


It's no Bird with the Crystal Plumage, or Deep Red (or Suspiria for that matter), but Tenebre is still one hell of a giallo.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer


After the opening credits the film starts in New York, as American author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) cycles to JFK airport. He flies to Rome so he can promote his new murder mystery novel 'tenebrae'. Meanwhile in Rome a woman tries to steal a copy of the book from some shop and is caught. She convinces the security guard to let her off. But someone in the store is watching her and has seen whats happened. Back at her flat she is attacked, pages of the book 'tenebrae' are forced into her mouth and her throat is slashed with a straight razor, just like the one the killer uses in the book. The police head straight for Neal to question him, while there Neal receives a letter and phone call from the killer, from then on Neal is thrown in a complex mystery and plunged into the centre of a number of senseless, violent murders. Written and directed by the overrated Dario Argento this is definitely one of his best films. Stylishly filmed with visually pleasing photography, the stand out sequence being the murder of the two lesbians, the camera starts outside of a window looking in at one of the victims, it then moves up a level to another window, it moves across the side of the house to yet another window in which the second victim can be seen playing a record, then the camera moves up toward the roof, glides along it and back down the opposite side of the house from which it started to rest on the killers gloved hand breaking into the house. All in one smooth flowing shot, very impressive. Add to this lots of close ups, strange angles, free flowing camera movements and a nice color scheme, and we have a very good looking film. Acting is OK, most of the lead characters are a little bit bland. While the film does contain a nice amount of nudity, violence and gore it is perhaps a little more restrained than you might expect, except for a scene towards the end of the film where a woman has her arm chopped off with an axe, how much blood?! Having said that the murders are very well done, and Dario films them with style, like the rest of the film. Script wise, I liked the twists and turns but the reasons for some of them didn't make much sense. And one or two bits stray into silly horror film cliché, like the dog attacking the girl, my least favorite sequence in the film. Overall a very good horror mystery. Make sure you listen and pay attention otherwise you may miss some vital plot points, like it appears some of the people who have reviewed it on Flixster did. One negative would be that once you have watch tenebrae once I don't think many people would be interested in watching it again, as once all the twists are revealed it loses its mystery and impact a little. Certainly worth a rent, recommended. The negative aspect of the film is the same with all of Argento's work. Its really rather dumb. The story and situations are never once believable. Despite being one of Argento's more compelling stories in a film, its still pretty far fetched. Many of the sequences, despite being frightening, are completely implausible when thought of, which definitely lessens the initial shock (the dog chase sticks out in particular). Also, there's not a single interesting or sympathetic character here, which is needed to make the deaths more effective. The acting, outside of the always enthusiastic and watchable John Saxon (who should have gotten the lead role instead of a small supporting one), is very wooden. Apparently Anthony Franciosa was drunk throughout filming and it shows. Despite all this, the film is still very suspenseful and moves at a quick pace. One other aspect that I really enjoyed about "Tenebre" was the seemingly self-referential moments. The critics of the main character (who is an author) accuse him of misogyny or attempt to read into subtexts of his work which he knows simply don't exist, both of which Argento went through. "Tenebre" is recommended if far from perfect.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Tenebrae (Unsane) Quotes

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