It’s been a full decade since we were last graced by the black-gloved touch of a Dario Argento film…
…Having just had its Canadian Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, the iconic filmmaker is finally back with a bloody new thriller entitled Dark Glasses.
Written by Argento and Franco Ferrini, Dark Glasses sets its sights on call girl Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli), blinded after a deadly car accident caused by a mysterious white van. Paired with young survivor Chin (Andrea Zhang) and in the midst of recovering, Diana becomes the target of a killer out to finish what they started.
Dark Glasses immediately feels like a standard Argento film, between the bass of Arnaud Rebotini’s score powering through the speakers and a violent kill by a black-gloved killer. The first fifteen minutes or so are a thrilling high for Argento fans who have been patiently waiting for more from the director. Except, like any drug, that high eventually wears off, and the vision of what Dark Glasses is becomes clearer. A low-tier Argento movie.
Dark Glasses contains many of Argento’s trademarks, but is lacking in the sense of artistry we’ve become so familiar with. The film delivers on the gore, the violence, the score. We have a shadowy killer. An alluring heroine. Even Asia Argento makes an appearance as Rita, the woman assisting Diana in adapting to her new life. But missing is the striking production design. The intriguing mystery. And maybe most importantly, the breathtaking approach to death.
The relationship between Diana and Chin is sweetly charming, with a heartfelt chemistry between Pastorelli and Zhang. These characters have each lost an important piece of their lives and are searching for someone to fill the emptiness that’s been left behind. Thankfully, the film doesn’t do the clichéd thing of turning our protagonist into some kind of superhero because of her newfound disability, but it also treats her like a completely helpless being incapable of doing much else besides crying and screaming, which isn’t great either.
Despite not giving the characters much to do, Dark Glasses soars at a frantic pace like a bat out of Hell at around eighty-five minutes, leaving the viewer with little time to contemplate the flawed script. This is also where Dark Glasses commits its most anti-Argento sin. The mystery is as dull as a butter knife, reveals presented with a mere shoulder shrug, as if the director is aware how lackluster of revelations they are.
Don’t get me wrong. Dark Glasses is perfectly “fine”. There’s a good deal of heart pulsating behind the dark shades of this lurid tale. The script may not be on the level we’re used to with Argento but, the skilled director that he is, still manages to squeeze some juice out of this dehydrated corpse for a few good shocks. Take your rose-colored fan glasses off while watching Dark Glasses for what is a mere shade of what Argento has to offer, yet is entertaining nonetheless.
(Look for my full review closer to the film's release date)
By Matt Konopka