Starring: Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento, Andrea Gherpelli, Mario Pirrello, and Andrea Zhang.
Written by: Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini
Directed by: Dario Argento
“They thought the sun going away meant the end of the world.”
One of the living legends of horror returns with the boisterously entertaining Dark Glasses – a brand new Shudder Exclusive streaming now on the service and recently premiered with a grand “Secret Screening” on the streamer’s main channel.
Diana (the vulnerably electric Ilenia Pastorelli) is a sex worker living and working in Italy, where a new, highly theatrical killer stalks the streets. One night, after an eclipse, she is attacked but escapes. However, her escape attempt leaves her blinded. This leads Diana to confront a brand new world as a sightless person. However, she also encounters another unintended victim of the killer, a young boy named Chin (a funny and affecting Andrea Zhang), whose parents are killed too in Diana’s escape attempt.
Thankfully, she has the kindly Rita (a warm Asia Argento) and a fiercely loyal German Shepard to help her rebuild her life. But when the killer returns, forcing Chin and Diana back into each other’s orbit. They are locked into a game of life and death. Naturally punctuated by stagey kills and thumping synth.
Dark Glasses is vintage Argento. We have a fairly conceptual setup, couched between a classic Giallo framework. Further, we have a brisk, fast-paced follow-through on said setup. Diana and Chin are introduced pretty quickly. Better still, the stakes are too. The film opens largely in the middle of this new killer’s spree, with our leads reacting largely in time with us, the audience.
Likewise, Argento would like to very much remind us that he’s still capable of some choice staging. Supported in full by gnarly, richly colored makeup effects. More than a few are really hard to look away from.
However, about halfway through, the film starts to pleasantly zag, while the driving tension of the killer remains. This IS a Giallo after all. The film turns inward despite the threat – focusing on the ever-evolving kinship and practical relationship of Dianna and Chin. This allows both performers to provide an unexpectedly sweet and loving energy within a movie where people get garroted.
To put it another way, Dark Glasses isn’t what you might expect, but in the best possible way. Though it has all the hallmarks of Argento in his prime, this new film stands as a brand-new synthesis of those hallmarks. It’s grounded, but still gorily stagey. Lurid, but tempered with warmth. Ultimately, Dark Glasses driven by a consistently rising set of stakes and situations.
Granted, I would imagine there aren’t many buddy movie-Giallo hybrid films out there. Nevertheless, I would count Dark Glasses amongst the best of them! It’s strange and savage and highly theatrical – exactly what you would want from a Dario Argento film. But this one goes through so many other odd directions and focuses that it completely sets it apart from the “classics” in Argento’s canon.
In my opinion, the best possible scenario for a “comeback” effort like this one.
Dark Glasses is streaming now. Exclusively on Shudder.