★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Dario Argento.
Black gloves! The stabiest of stabbings! Groovy Goblin-esque soundtrack! Mysterious subterfuge! A nod (maybe) to the 1971 classic Cat O’ Nine Tails. Argento is back! Well, maybe he’s back. The vote’s still out on that wild proclamation.
In his 27th-ish film, Dark Glasses, Argento (re)explores many of the dark spaces that he’s been poking around at for over 50 years! Well, 52 years, but who’s counting. The point is that Argento is back to Giallo, he’s still a great director, and he managed to swap out crusty ol’ Karl Malden for the stunningly tall model/actress, Ilenia Pastorelli.
Dark Glasses follows Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) a prostitute with a heart of gold, and a complete lack of common sense. Diana falls prey to the one-two punch of staring directly in a solar eclipse and then unwittingly takes part in a menacing car chase involving a black-gloved-knife-wielding-psychopath. Unclear if her blindness is brought on by her poor choice to stare in to the sun, or the unfortunate auto accident, but Diana is most certainly left blind.
To make matters worse Diana’s car wreck kills two individuals and she tries to make amends to their surviving son, Chin (Andrea Zhang), by buying him a handheld gaming device. Chin is left to fend for himself from bullies at a local orphanage, but Diana’s kind words and gracious actions leave Chin with the sense that the prostitute with the heart of gold might just be a good substitute Mom.
Diana, her guide dog, and Chin all make the best of their new found circumstances while being stalked, harassed, and menaced by the black-gloved-knife-wielding-psychopath. They eventually come to growling blows with the maniac, but it’s done in the most un-Giallo way possible.
That’s more or less the issue with Dark Glasses — it’s lack of Giallo. Argento certainly puts in motion a series of interesting a frightening circumstances, but they’re all very staid, routine, and linear. There’s no twists. No turns. And no hyper-complicated plot lines. When the “twist” comes in the third act you’ll likely be overwhelmed with a melancholy feeling of “meh.”
Dark Glasses is certainly a major step up from Argento’s last two outings: Dracula 3D and Mother of Tears, but it definitely lacks a punch. While it might have been slightly improved by an alleged soundtrack from EDM greats Daft Punk, the soundtrack is not what’s lacking in the film. Truth be told the soundtrack is actually pretty decent. The performances are fine, the serial killer is passable, Asia Argento’s appearance is reasonable, but what makes this Giallo outing so lackluster is its lack of Giallo.
At 82 Dario Argento has definitely, and well deservedly, slowed down. That’s OK in our book. Here’s hoping the greatest Giallo director of all time still has one last trick, or twist, up his sleeve!
Dark Glasses is likely Rated R and currently streaming on Shudder.