My notes on Come in cielo, Così in Terra (As In Heaven, So On Earth)
This ambitious Italian horror film has a found footage frame, as cop Leonardo (Paolo Ricci) assembles a video documentary about his investigation of the disappearance of teens Cris (Federico Ceasari) and Jessy (Sara Paudano) in the ruins of a monastery, but also runs to a classical gothic tale set in 1275 using (excellent) Anomalisa-style puppet animation to tell the story of a young girl abducted and mistreated by monks in the service of an alchemical experiment that might be an early instance of stem cell research. When the teenagers find the hidden cell, it’s decorated like a catacomb with many, many tiny skulls and far fewer adult skulls – a bit of set design explained (horribly) in the puppet sequences. Writer-director Francesco Erba doesn’t hold back from the bleakness, in the mediaeval and modern-day stories, but shows some tact and taste in the presentation. This is one of those movies where you twig early on that getting attached to any of the characters won’t have a happy payoff, which has the effect of casting a heavy shadow over everything else – a dramatic downside of hopelessness is a certain monotony, even in a film which varies its storytelling as wildly as this one does.
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