Bob Crane (not the perverted chap from Auto Focus) is a twenty year old park ranger in Wyoming. His twin sister Jessica is a model based in Italy. They apparently share a kind of telepathic bond, allowing each glimpses into the other's life when they're in danger. When Bob has a vision of Jessica's death in a hotel room, he refuses to believe the concierge's assertion that she simply hasn't yet returned from a night out, and he flies to Italy to look for her. After forming a bond with the initially sceptical local Police Inspector (Donald Pleasance doing the most half-hearted Italian accent of all time), Bob begins a cursory investigation into Jessica's life/the world of 1980s fashion. A couple more models turn up dead, but then Bob receives a note from Jessica telling him that she's alive, and advising him to cease his investigation. He packs his bags and sets out for the airport, but his ESP isn't done with him yet...
As with the John Carpenter-scripted US quasi-giallo 'The Eyes of Laura Mars', the second sight depicted here is, at best, nebulously defined, and doesn't really add much to the picture. Well, saying that, it does have relevance to the plot, and I imagine that it featured strongly when Carlo Vanzina was pitching it to the suits. As always, though, including a supernatural angle in a film such as this leads to a diminishing of any sense of 'reality', and this the stalk and slash scenes become less menacing and more fairytale-like, as we know they're occurring in a parallel universe which is different to ours.
The one attempt at a traditional set piece, which involves a chase through deserted streets at nighttime followed by an extended sequence in a hotel room, during which the victim believes she's out of danger, concludes in a bizarrely anti-climactic note - the model, in her bathroom, turns around and stares blankly for a second or two, before we cut to see a pair of scissors being raised into an empty frame. And exit model.
Did she somehow not see the killer? Did she see them but not react because she knew them (possible, but surely you'd still jump if you thought you were alone in your jacks and turned around to find a friend right behind you)? There's no real jump scare either, and the sequence's only real saving grace is Pino Donaggio's score (I initially wrote in my notes that the score sounded like someone imitating Pino D imitating Bernard Herrmann; the sentiment is correct, but I should probably apologise to Big P for thinking his own work was an imitation of same, so soz bbz). I should stress that the praise for the score here refers to this and maybe one or two other pieces, with the rest of the film showcasing standard 80s synthy fare (and a pop song by Gloria Gaynor).
Bob isn't an especially compelling character-he seems to like models (and his sister), and he shows some initiative in immediately flying across the Atlantic following his vision (which seemed to mostly incorporate the killer's POV rather than his sister's, further confusing the telepathy aspect) but he never seems truly, passionately driven. The scene in which he stands slack-jawed watching a fashion show while a potentially crucial suspect struts her stuff metres from him before meeting her demise backstage kind of sums up his lack of impetus. The police aren't much better, although, it has to be said, they do seem slightly more driven to catch the killer than Bob. (Maybe he knew from ESP that they'd be better at sleuthing than him?)
He also displays an alarming lapse in judgement when he receives the note from Jessica telling him to drop his investigation - it's unclear as to whether we're meant to truly believe that it's from her, but any idiot should be able to tell that the signature has been forged. Bob seems to be a special kind of idiot and does actually buy the forgery (although he spends the last third of the movie in an uncommunicative trance, so it's impossible to fully discern his thoughts and motives). A later shot of pages of handwriting in the killer's lair showing that they've been practising Jessica's signature is presumably meant to be some sort of revelation, but the only revelatory aspect is that the filmmakers apparently believed that anyone would be surprised by the reveal.
Speaking of reveals, the 'unmasking' of the killer is one of the least surprising in giallo history - 'one' being the operative word, as that's how many potential guilty parties remain alive by then! (Unless you believe that a Japanese man could convince a non-blind woman that he's a blond Caucasian model.) The mystery aspect is pretty perfunctory - the murdered girls all have expensive diamonds in their possession, which adds a layer of mystery, but this angle is summarily resolved when a leading suspect thoroughly cleans his conscience in a police interview. What little investigating that does happen is essentially for nought; Bob gets a tingle in his third eye on the way to the airport towards the end of the film, uncovers the killer's lair and then phones the police to come and rescue him (although how they pinpoint the exact apartment is a bigger mystery than anything else in the film). The final sequence/shot suggests that co-writer Franco Ferrini had seen some of his buddy Dario Argento's earlier films, and it's somewhat effective if you can buy the fact that everyone just stands idly by watching what happens.
Speaking of the script, the first dialogue exchange (“you open it, I’m too nervous” and some guff about catching a big fish*) would make you think they’d filmed a first draft; if they did it was a first draft to which three credited writers contributed. The direction isn't great; some of the camerawork is stylish, but it's often ruined by poor blocking and staging (check out the scene where Barbara makes her first entrance for a particularly bad example of this - she clearly begins standing in front of a wall awaiting her cue). There's also a fair amount of body doubled nudity (and some 'authentic nudity', to be fair) shoehorned in. And yet - it's not a bad film. It's not a good film, certainly not a great film (in fact, it might actually be a bad film now I think about it), but it's watchable. It doesn't overstay its welcome, it's decently-paced, and it tries to do something slightly different with the genre. And if it doesn't fully succeed, it succeeds in trying. Which counts for something.
*This dialogue potentially is a foreshadowing the fish-out-of-water narrative, featuring a yank in Italy, except it almost certainly isn't.