Dark Glasses (Occhiali neri)

Directed by: Dario Argento
Distributed by: Vision Distribution

Written by Michael Clawson

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With “Dark Glasses,” Italian horror legend Dario Argento is less interested in redrawing the lines of giallo than in coloring within them. Pulpy and to the point, the movie has just about all of the elements you would expect from the genre this filmmaker helped to define: a brutal murderer who lurks in the shadows off-screen, vividly gory violence in the form of strangulation and stabbings, and a gloriously pronounced electronic score, to name just a few. If it doesn’t reach the heights of Argento’s best work, it still more than satisfies as a lean and mean demonstration of late style.

Ilenia Pastorelli plays this film’s woman in peril, a call girl named Diana who goes blind after her attempt to evade the hands of a killer ends in a gruesomely realized car accident. The crash takes the lives of the parents of a young boy named Chin (Andrea Zhang), who Diana then feels compelled to take responsibility for. Chin remains by Diana’s side as she’s pursued by the bloodthirsty psychopath, who the police, of course, are abysmally unsuccessful in hunting down.

The film’s pleasures are all in Argento’s direction, which evenly balances off-kilter style and striking realism, along with Pastorelli’s tough, self-assured performance. In her shades and blood-red lipstick, Diana comes off as anything but a meek, helpless victim, and Pastorelli is quite captivating in how she shows Diana adapting to a life without sight. It’s disappointing that the killer, when ultimately revealed, is a bland villain, but thanks to sequences like the wondrously eerie and abstract prelude, in which Diana gazes up uncomfortably up at an eclipse, a strangeness hangs over the film that keeps even the dull and silly moments interesting.

“Dark Glasses” Trailer

Michael Clawson is a member of the Seattle Film Critic Society you can follow his passion for film on Letterboxd.

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