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Movie Reviews

[Fantastic Fest ’21] ‘Name Above Title’ review: Unique neo giallo is a quiet commentary on social media

Silent but violent.

Name Above Title will make some moviegoers groan immediately. Before the film begins, a quote from Ted Bundy fills the screen in blood red letters. Moments later, an attractive man kills a young woman as they are having an intimate moment on the beach. There are plenty of films about a good looking and charismatic serial killers and another one is the last thing people want to see.

As it turns out, that is just an insignificant piece of the overall story. After a woman throws herself off a balcony, she lands next to the killer. As a crowd of onlookers records what they are seeing she whispers something in his ear. He leans over and kisses her before she dies in an act of kindness that captures the social media world by storm. But is there something more to the gesture?

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Name Above Title is one of the most unique thrillers of the year. Aside from murmurs and background music, there is no audible dialogue. The entire movie is propelled through actions and reactions. This works beautifully until the final act. For the most part, it comes across as natural. Some may not even notice the lack of conversation. The plot seamlessly flows for most of the one hour runtime.

A moment towards the end sticks out since it looks like the characters are playing a game or even outright ignoring each other. It ruins the immersion of Name Above Title and comes off as a cheap gimmick. The other downside to having no verbal interaction is the lack of character development. The story is very much a visual medium and what you see is what you get.

This changes in the final moments of Name Above Title. The killer is almost regarded as a false prophet. These moments are short, impactful, and a not so subtle knock against how figures are put on a pedestal on social media. When those same idols do something to betray their followers, it is seen as an act of blasphemy. This is captured perfectly in the closing scenes.

Colors and sounds crash across this modern giallo. The sexuality and violence are not as brazen as the Italian masters once did, but what director Carlos Conciecao uses works better in the context of the film. (That being said, there is a good amount of gore and the last shot is sexually charged.) Name Above Title is the rare film that will stand out in a good way for the things it does not do. 

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 23 – September 30. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.

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