With its suggestive title and sinister opening shot—tracking slowly through a dark, dust-coated apartment—Don’t Tell may at first have audiences fearing they’ve stumbled into a Dario Argento pic. But this Oscar-nominated Italian drama eschews stylized gore to deal with a different kind of horror altogether. Attractive young Sabina (Mezzogiorno) seems to have the perfect life: a fashionable apartment, steady work dubbing films and a sympathetic boyfriend, Franco (Boni). But she is haunted by fragmentary dreams of her childhood, which unfold in the aforementioned apartment and feature her father, now deceased, as a menacing figure in pajamas. Crippled by vague dread and growing estranged from Franco, Sabina travels to America to visit her older brother, Daniele (Lo Cascio), and discover the truth about her past.
Sabina eventually learns that she was sexually abused—a now-painfully familiar narrative that American audiences will be quick to grasp. Indeed, when Don’t Tell leaves the spooky atmospherics behind, it resembles nothing so much as a very polished TV movie-of-the-week—serious, well intentioned and overdetermined. That director-screenwriter Cristina Comencini has grafted on superfluous subplots about a blind lesbian, a middle-aged divorce and a frustrated filmmaker doesn’t help matters. We instinctively deplore the tragedy that befell Sabina—who wouldn’t?—but Don’t Tell is too schematic to deeply engage us. (Opens Fri; Landmark Sunshine.)—Tom Beer