Descending into a fiery hiatus after his notoriously loathed ‘Dracula’ adaptation, Dario Argento is now officially back for another round of terror. Starring in Gaspar Noé’s Vortex last year, it seemed as though it was about time for the applauded director to return to his roots. Producing horror classics such as Deep Red & Suspiria, Argento’s home belongs within his beloved sanctuary of the director’s chair. How could one forget his blood-red iconography; images instilled in the minds of horror maniacs with dastardly knives and trauma-bent women? Built on the Italian enterprise of Giallo, Dark Glasses is a formidable comeback as expected from any ordinary Argento production. Don’t expect any 3D conversion, nor cheap theatrics. His latest venture is inexplicably brutal — compiled with grisly car crashes and vile killings. The film’s blood-splattered massacres are mortifying and oddly humorous; a coy reminder of why we love Argento’s work and his often misguided visions.
The majority of the immersion featured in Dark Glasses can be attributed to its own immersive sound-design. The medium is used to its utmost advantage; with various sequences designed to increase suspense with hefty sound-oriented locations. From the murmuring cicadas of rural pasture to the hectic beeping of street-posts; sound provides a crucial aid to the central-perspective of the film. The mixing emulates a binaural effect — placing the viewer in various atmospheric set-pieces built with alluring room-tones and reverb. The mixing is critical, as it constructs and executes impact upon the sounds of barking dogs and on-screen strangulation. Argento’s gore pales in comparison with the concentrated dynamism of his soundscape; as the film navigates through the eyes of the blind.
The impressive talent behind each immaculate sound-bite detours towards a middling screenplay. The film’s reveal of its on-screen killer is simultaneously underwhelming and daft; a narrative-turn which could have benefited from a lack of clarity. In an attempt at criticising male entitlement, the film regresses backwards with its questionable finale. The real terror at the core of Dark Glasses is the cruelty of humanity; a face which should have remained unseen rather than personified with the identity of a man only briefly hinted with motive during the film’s opening act. Argento implements tropes to subsidise his underdeveloped screenwriting — only too spawn a humorous thematic parallel as a result of his shallow criticisms. One could even investigate the film’s ableist casting of its core-lead; a performance capitalising upon visual-impairment from an able-bodied actress.
Argento’s directorial machismo is still somewhat present after various years of production silence; even with the film’s lesser moments of social-horror. There’s a certain magic to the opening minutes of Dark Glasses. We witness an eclipse dawn upon an isolated Italian town; the people of the municipality rejoicing at the power of the sun. The sequence is languid, impeccably edited with smooth-cutting and hypnotic dissolves to increase tension. Once the film begins its graphic descent into misogynistic madness, Dark Glasses begins to disintegrate within a puddle of predictable story-beats. Argento’s latest is far from exceptional, yet suffices as an adequate recovery project to resuscitate Giallo from beyond the grave.