“Illness, insanity, and death are the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied my whole life.” This quote from the famous painter Edvard Munch is presented at the start of Michele Civetta’s Agony. The quote encapsulates the movie perfectly. I could honestly stop the review right now and tell you to go watch the film with that information, but I won’t. The thing I love the most about Agony is that it revisits a genre that doesn’t get too much traction anymore: Gothic Horror.
While Agony is branded as a psychological thriller, which it is, to be fair, it checks off all the boxes of gothic horror. A castle, a familial curse, a specter roaming the halls, a group of townsfolk who won’t tell the truth. It’s delightful in a world where most horror equates to as much blood as possible or ghosts with twisted up faces that crabwalk across the ceiling.
“Isadora is in distress…her mother…committed suicide…and starts to descend slowly into madness.”
Agony stars one of my absolute favorite actresses, Asia Argento. She plays Isadora, an Italian woman living in New York with her husband Michael (Jonathan Caouette) and young daughter Jordan (Molly Jane McCarthy). At the very beginning of the film, Isadora has a psychedelic vision of people dressed in masks and ceremonial costumes at some kind of occult gathering. She has had this vision as a dream many times, and this is the first time she’s seen it while she is awake. This is very important to the rest of the film and comes up again and again.
She then receives the news that her mother, Carlotta (Giulia Di Quilio), has passed away, which would be upsetting to anyone, but it’s even more so to Isadora. Her father led Isadora to believe that her mother died 30 years ago. Not only does she discover that her mother has passed on, but Isadora has inherited her colossal estate in Tuscany and her title of Marquesa.
"…checks off all the boxes of gothic horror."
Both actress and director/writer are fabulous.