The Italian horror film The Binding (2020) lacks enough energy to scare – in spite of its harrowing last half an hour.
Possession frequently appears in horror movies, and often it repeats the same story – like boomers saying „back in my days…”. Truth be told, back in the days The Binding (2020) would have been shocking, and maybe win the appeal of international audiences thanks to the exotic setting of Southern Italy. Today’s status of such a horror movie lands somewhere between „I’ve seen it before” and „It could have been so much better”.
The plot of The Binding (2020)
The front page of The Binding (2020) is occupied by Emma (Mia Maestra), a mother of young girl Sofia. Like in I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), Emma too drives with her boyfriend Francesco (Riccardo Scamarcio) to meet the future mother-in-law. What looks good on the surface hides a ghastly secret, and when Sofia becomes possessed by a familiar evil entity, Emma needs to fight for her daughter’s life.
Before the hostile apparition arrives, director Domenico Emanuele de Feudis serves a promising appetizer. A climatic beginning is guaranteed by the rural setting. Francesco’s home benefits greatly from its postcard ambience, meanwhile the cold, loft interior perfectly fits a horror movie. But an experienced cook knows that you can’t make the guests wait too long for the main course – even if the appetizer is mouth-watering. In the case of The Binding (2020) you’re going to starve before the major course comes round.
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The Italian horror The Binding (2020) is scarcely scary
De Feudis stalls any harrowing reveals in a slow-burn fashion, a kind of art that requires tremendous composure and meticulousness, prominent as in Roman Polanski’s (1968) or in Andrzej Żuławki’s Possession (1981). Exposition requires time for debutant de Feudis who picks tensions between Emma and her mother-in-law as a pivotal part of the story. Although this is the airstrip for true horrors, the long take-off feels way off balance in relation to the rest of the story.
Troubles with eliciting fear in The Binding (2020) stem from puzzled performances of Mia Maestro and Riccardo Scamarcio.
As a worried mother whose insecurity pushes her on the edge, Mia Maestro should embrace at least a percentage of Toni Collette’s powerhouse turn in Hereditary (2018) to sell Emma believably. But Emma lacks charisma, and so does Francesco who looks even more bland. Both parents fail to draw viewers into their ordeal, making the ghost – played by Federica Rosellini – the most notable in the ensemble.
Where The Binding (2020) does not disappoint entirely is its closing third act.
Though the reveal comes without any major surprise, de Feudis stages frights effortlessly. The grisly ghost looming from dark corridors of the mansion is a sight that many horror fans will appreciate. A dessert that erases at least some of the earlier bitterness.
The Binding (2020)
Hate Grade: 6/10
Director: Domenico Emanuele de Feudis
Writer: Daniele Cosci
Starring: Riccardo Scamarcio, Mia Maestra
Composer: Massimiliano Mechelli
Cinematography: Luca Santagostino