NAME ABOVE TITLE (Um Fio De Baba Escarlate), playing at Nighstream, is written and directed by Carlos Conceição. The film follows a serial killer Candide (Matthieu Charneau) catapulted into social media stardom after he kisses a woman who threw herself off a balcony. Stylish, musically, and artistically focused, NAME ABOVE TITLE stands out in those regards but does not entertain enough for me to forget or accept I’m watching another film about a man who preys on women.
Before the film begins, they give us a Ted Bundy quote, so I had an inkling of where this film was headed but was hoping I would enjoy the story more. But the opening of NAME ABOVE TITLE works beautifully. We watch an unnamed woman on the balcony stumble around a balcony with music and background noise. Eventually, she clumsily drags a chair to the railing, steps over the bars, and walks off the edge. Since I had little idea what the film was about, I went in blind. The music and sound effects through the film are excellent and, combined with the visuals, have a Giallo style but are filmed as its takes place today.
Then the next scene in NAME ABOVE TITLE is Candide kissing a woman in his car at an empty beach when he pulls out a cord and strangles her. The scene was disturbing to watch, but there is an artistic quality to the deaths that I had to applaud. Where the two events converge is after Candide wraps his victim up and stuffs her in his car. Later, while parked by a sidewalk, our silent lady drops from the balcony in front of him. As he stares, passersby also see and pull out their phones and cameras to record. When he slowly lifts her and kisses her before she dies.
This makes him famous as people regard his kiss as an act of kindness. Not sure why anyone would consider a random stranger kissing a dying person without their blessing as acceptable, let alone kind, but they do. So, serial killer Candide gets sponsorship opportunities and deals. When people discover the truth about that kiss, Candide becomes an overnight pariah. Later, when he’s found unconscious in a cave by a religious sect, they view it and him as a sign.
The film was a challenge to watch because I’m not a fan of overly stylish movies with more pomp and circumstance than actual substance. But with horror, I’m lenient with the rule, provided there are scares. NAME ABOVE TITLE did not scare me, but then again, slashers and serial killer films never do. They can be entertaining, dull, or disturbing but never scary.
I also do appreciate that NAME ABOVE TITLE has no dialogue, though its impact is reduced by the overall film. The film is told through actions, emotions, and music to heighten the moment. The film makes a valiant effort, and for some, they will love it. For me, I jockeyed between disturbed and bored. While NAME ABOVE TITLE stands out among the crowd of horror films style-wise, the unique qualities weren’t enough to make me look past the fact that I was still watching a serial killer film with no dialogue. While I get the critique about social media popularity and how quickly throngs of sycophants can turn on those they admire, the film did not entertain.
However, if Giallo-style films are your joy and you don’t mind the lack of dialogue, NAME ABOVE TITLE is worth a look.
NAME ABOVE TITLE played as a part of this year’s NIGHTSTREAM.
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