After her kinky but original debut as actress/director in the likeable “Open My Heart,” Giada Colagrande falls off the edge in “Before It Had a Name,” a still-born drama scripted with co-star Willem Dafoe that painfully strives to be cultish and ends up being an embarrassment for all concerned. A wannabe haunted house tale laced with silly sex scenes, its splintered scripting and board-stiff dialogue makes mincemeat of even the usually reliable Dafoe. Pic’s failure to scare up an audience on either side of the Atlantic should make the Italo filmmaker think twice before challenging the English-language indie market next go-around.
Eleonora’s (Colagrande) American boyfriend Karl has died, leaving her a hyper-modern house out in the woods. It’s so scary she calls on caretaker Leslie (Dafoe) to sleep over and protect her. He needs little persuasion. Rather hilariously, the sultry, seductive Eleonora depicts herself as a mathematician who lives in a world of abstraction. Certainly the directing is cold and calculated. Bizarre touches, like the ironic use of horror film music at unexpected moments, feel more amateurish than original and underline a stubborn, very misplaced refusal of dramatic logic.