A high concept film is said to be one that can be summarized easily in one sentence. Italian film Nina Crazy Suicide Girl is about devil worshiping pornographers who kidnap and murder young women. If that isn't high concept, I don't know what is.
Nina (Irene Giordano) is a sort of depressive assassin for hire, who is helping her friend Andrea find his cousin Anna, who disappears after getting involved in the adult film industry. They find some films produced by Xtasy Video and set out to discover if they were involved in Anna's disappearance. Nina poses as an adult film actress in order to get closer to Cesare Mazza (Gabriele Guerra), the head of Xtasy Video, while Andrea talks to Paulo Vanni, the private investigate who looked for and supposedly failed to find Anna.
They steadily close in on the criminals at Xtasy, and along the way team up with Maria (Silvia Milesi), who is also looking for a missing relative. On the whole, the investigation comes off as too simple by half, with Andrea easily finding incriminating evidence in Vanni's office, and Nina able to steal a revealing date book from Mazza with little trouble. The audience is also treated to ritual murder, torture by blowtorch, full frontal male and female nudity, and the curiously androgynous leader of the cult, Marcus (Stefania Visconti).
The biggest problem with Nina Crazy Suicide Girl, and there are a number of them, is the central conflict, or lack thereof. Sure, a young girl is missing, held hostage and waiting to be sacrificed, but nevertheless urgency is conspicuously absent. Nowhere do we see the indomitable drive to save the girl or solve the puzzle that we might see in such films as Taken, Man on Fire or even Oldboy. Everyone is remarkably lackadaisical about the affair, and why shouldn't they be, since all the obstacles they encounter are easily resolved in a few minutes. There's no working out of moral quandaries, or heart wrenching decisions to abandon a formerly dear moral precept, or even any real jeopardy. Even when events take a turn for the worse, the audience has absolute confidence that everything will work out. And if a minor character dies, so what? We haven't been given any reason to care about them anyway.
On the technical side, the film is fine, but never outstanding. The towns and villages of Italy provide a lot of nice practical sets for the producers to exploit. The acting is competent, but never passionate or risky. The effects are fair for a low budget film, at least when they stick to blood and practical work, but not boisterous or otherwise impressive. The occasional CGI is not very good at all. At best, the film is a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a generic brand at that. There is that nudity, which can go a long way for some people, but it's hardly enough to carry a film.
is certainly ambitious, but not inspired enough to carry it off. The occasional awkwardness and roughly sketched story don't help matters, and the viewer is never allowed, or even invited, to really give a damn about the characters. Rent this one, but don't expect much.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen, and has a few problems. There's some aliasing, and it's a bit grainy from time to time. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and sounds decent, though there's a bit of an echo at times. English subtitles are included for those who do not speak Italian. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
A few extras are included: a few trailers for other films, a gallery of stills and posters, and a text biography of director Christian Arioli. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quantity or quality of extras on the final product.
Nina is definitely a girl, and judging from the scene where she dry clicks a revolver pressed against her temple she's probably suicidal, but she's not nearly crazy enough to make this a truly entertaining film. Because of the general lack of passion and exuberance, we never really believe that these characters are invested in what's happening. And if the characters can't get excited about what's going on, why should we? Nina Crazy Suicide Girl is a decent effort, but doesn't work as it should.