There's no optimist like a longtime fan, but only a fool would expect Dario Argento to do a film in the 2020s to rival masterpieces like Tenebrae, Inferno, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, or Opera. Not to mention Susperia and Deep Red. The best we can hope for at this point is a decent movie. We've seen the worst already in Dracula and Phantom of the Opera. I think Dario should avoid remakes of classic horror movies. I remember when people complained about Trauma. A decade later we'd all dream of him doing something so good.

I've found things to enjoy about most of them. Even The Card Player and Do You Like Hitchcock? The trick is not to judge them against Argento's 70s and 80s work.

The new one is Dark Glasses, a Shudder original production. Which I think means Shudder acquired the North American rights to the film.

Right off the bat, I liked Dark Glasses. As usual with Argento I overlooked scenes that defy credibility. There are whispers of the glorious old visual style he commanded. It's a straightforward story with little of the surreal elements of much of Dario's work. Plotwise it is similar his early Animal Trilogy, but Dark Glasses isn't as ambitious nor is it as strikingly original.

A cokehead dog trainer is killing prostitutes. In a role that would have been great for Asia Argento a decade or two ago, Ilenia Pastorelli plays Diana, an upscale call girl. She tells a creepy client that he stinks and needs a shower. Too bad it's the murderer. He begins to stalk Diana, and at one point she speeds away in a car and runs headlong into another vehicle, killing a Chinese couple. Their young son isn't hurt. Diana is blinded in the accident.

Diana visits the boy in a church-run home. She apologizes to him and leaves her contact information with a nun. The boy, Chin, sees the address, escapes, and comes to Diana's apartment. She unwisely decides to let him stay. Soon it's a cat and mice game as the killer chases Diana and Chin throughout the streets and countryside of Italy.

Ilenia Pastorelli is excellent in the lead. She displays a nice range of anger, terror, and guts. Andrea Gherpelli is the killer. There's almost no background or psychology in the character. He looks like a middle-aged Harry Dean Stanton coming off a long weekend of bad malt liquor consumption. In other words, suitably creepy.

I mentioned Asia Argento before. I wouldn't have recognized her in Dark Glasses. Like the rest of us she's grown older. Asia plays against type as a decent social worker helping Diana adjust to her loss of sight. It's a small role, but she's good in it.

The gore is lively, if a bit phony-looking. Sergio Stivaletti has done much better work. Arnaud Rebotini seems to be trying to evoke Goblin with the score, but he's no Claudio Simonetti.

The best parts of Dark Glasses are the scenes between Diana and Chin. It's even touching. Argento has never excelled in situations of genuine human emotion. The newly blind woman and the newly orphaned boy develop a strong bond as they rely on each other's strengths to combat the killer.

I could pick Dark Glasses to pieces, but honestly it's pretty good. It looks great, the performers are all up to their tasks, and the story is reasonably suspenseful. The movie speeds along at a brisk pace, and at eighty-six minutes it doesn't drag on longer than it should. I've seen a whole lot worse, from Dario as well as other filmmakers.

Written by Mark Sieber

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry