There is Not Much to See in Dark Glasses (2022)
Title: Dark Glasses
First Non-Festival Release: February 24, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento, Andrea Zhang
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A serial killer is roaming the streets of Rome, killing sex workers with his sinister weapon of choice: cello rope. High class escort Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) is his latest target. Just when he gets close enough to kill her, she manages to escape. Engaged in a high-speed chase, Diana crashes into a car that holds a family of three. Both the mother and father are killed on impact, but Chin (Andrea Zhang) survives relatively unharmed. Diana survives too but loses her sight which forces her to rely on a service dog, Nerea, to make it through the day. Furious at having to re-adjust her life and feeling guilty over the deaths of the parents, Diana finds her world getting darker by the day as the killer continues to pursue her. With Chin and Nerea by her side, Diana will have to fight back against her stalker if she wants to live another day.
Tame neo-giallo Dark Glasses hides behind its thin concept without fleshing out the finer details of its mystery or offering suitable frights.
This long-awaited return to horror from a master of horror leaves much to be desired thanks to its limp story. Kicking things off with an ungainly opening that lacks the spectacle or mystery of his previous efforts, Dark Glasses fully loses itself once Diana lets Chin into her home. Mostly as an excuse for Diana to leave the safety of the city and retreat to a more isolating location, the cat-and-mouse antics feel forced and result in dull chase sequences that are primarily boosted by a threatening white van. With some more time to develop the mystery behind Diana’s stalker and perhaps escalate the stakes, Dark Glasses could have succeeded as a late entry giallo-slasher hybrid.
Many key elements of giallo films are left out in this modern take on the subgenre that make it feel empty. The chase sequences and death scenes lack originality and end in obvious ways. Not every giallo death is grandiose, but there is a spectacle to it that is distinctly omitted in this 2022 film. Dark Glasses also makes the fatal mistake of playing its cards too early and revealing its killer’s identity and motive too early. The lack of intrigue or mystery makes it difficult to stay invested in the story. Additionally, the motivation behind the killer’s actions feels stale, especially compared to previous genre entries.
This flatness is punctuated in nearly every aspect of the film. Giallos tend to be memorable for the audacity of the creative decisions employed within them. Aside from the general plot outline, nothing Dark Glasses does is particularly innovative, unique, or exciting. There is a particularly gripping scene involving a service animal attempting to protect its owner that sticks out but other than that, Dark Glasses is a tame affair. Its cinematography is mostly static, its saturated in darkness for most of the film with few splotches of color to brighten up the pallet, and the acting is muted overall.
Dario Argento still has some hold on his massive talent that has garnered him such a reputation in the horror community. While the story of Dark Glasses falters due to the simplicity and underwhelming nature of the project, Argento maintains control in the director’s seat enough to craft an appropriate amount of tension. Through the aimless location hopping of the main characters, Argento ekes out enough suspense in a few key scenes to keep the plot progressing. The production values are generally good, as the locations and many of its scarier scenes boast a glossier veneer than many of its predecessors.
The thought of Dario Argento releasing a new film is more exciting than the final product. Dark Glasses is a much more restrained and disappointing venture than his previous films. While the central cast is charming in their roles and the method of murder is uniquely terrifying, there is little terror developed to interest fans of the subgenre. Lacking the signature charms of his previous work while not presenting much new in terms of story, the mystery in this modern giallo is stale at best. Diehard fans and those cinephiles who enjoy wackier affairs may find much to love in Dark Glasses, but for most others this will be eclipsed by Argento’s stronger offerings.
Overall Score? 5/10