This is an okay giallo marred chiefly by its use of convoluted red herrings that I could never even figure out what I was supposed to be thinking they pointed to. Combined with the fact that our hero, Inspector Luca Peritti, cracks the case after visiting the murder scene and having a flash of inspiration while simultaneously rendering the previous 85 minutes of investigation completely meaningless and you end up with a film that has its moments (notably a couple of well done death scenes) and is able to keep you involved, but only because you’re unaware that everything you’re seeing doesn’t matter in discovering the killer’s identity.
Peritti gets involved with the case after a guy turns up murdered at an old quarry that’s full of water. The dead guy had hired a crane operator to dredge the swamp, but instead the crane operator dredged this guy by the head and in a particularly impressive scene, lifts the guy into the air with the crane’s claw and decapitates him.
The murdered guy turns out to be a former insurance investigator who had resigned suddenly after working on the case of a murdered girl. The only lead that Peritti has is the mysterious key found in one of victim’s suit coats.
The insurance investigator’s wife phones and lets the police know that her dead husband had a post office box and that’s probably what the key is for.
With two unsolved murders already staring at them and their only lead being this key, they did what any Italian police force in a giallo movie would do with this important piece of evidence and tell her to just go to the post office and open up the box herself to see what’s in it.
Proving that the police knew what they were doing when they didn’t send one of their own men, the killer strangles her right there in the post office in front of everybody, but no one steps in to help or gets a good look at the killer.
But it turns out to be double good police work! Clutched in the dead woman’s hand, Peritti finds a picture drawn by a child and he confirms that the picture was drawn by the murdered girl that the murdered insurance investigator was looking into.
This is where the movie bogs down – with this stupid picture. Because of the weird chimney on the house in the picture, Peritti knows that she has been to the murder scene prior to being murdered. That must mean that she knew the killer! Of course it could also mean she went there with someone else, right?
None of it is really important though because it’s obvious to even a dull witted 10 year old aspiring Encyclopedia Brown that she knew the killer and that it was likely a family member. The people being murdered were listed in the insurance investigator’s report as having been interviewed about the girl’s death. Who else with any interest in the dead kid is going to be allowed to look at the report except the family?
But why then would the killer have to do any more than kill the investigator before he can find the clue that holds the key to the murderer’s identity? Wouldn’t that secret clue die with the insurance guy? He certainly wouldn’t have told anyone else about the clue because he was hoping to use it to solve the case and get paid by the family. Protip: never kill anyone until you absolutely have to. That’s right out of Giallo Slasher 101!
Just as nonsensical, both the killer and Peritti realize the key to the killer’s identity is contained in this clue (a mirror) at the same time. Maximum plot contrivance dictates that Peritti and the killer continue to unravel the whereabouts of the vital clue simultaneously.
Peritti gives a rather long-winded speech where he vainly attempts to summarize and make sense of everything that has happened. The killer thought the insurance guy had the key to the killer’s identity and started killing everyone who might also know. Of course this ignores the fact that not one of these people killed ever came forward with any new information on the case or gave the killer any reason to believe they knew the killer’s identity.
It also ignores the possibility that the imprisoned girl threw this mirror out the window and down the hill because she might have done so in an effort to get help, not to tell who killed her. Or she could have just drawn a picture on the back of the mirror because she was so freaking bored being locked up and starved!
The film ultimately forces the killer and Peritti to over-analyze everything to the point ridiculousness, the story so poorly constructed that suspense and false leads take precedence over common sense.
© 2016 MonsterHunter