Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Dario Argento.
Starring Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento, Andrea Gherpelli, Mario Pirrello.
Horror, Italy, 86 minutes.

Streaming on Shudder from 13th October

Reviewed as part of FrightFest ‘22


At its FrightFest premiere Dario Argento stepped out in front of a sold-out audience who rapturously applauded the Italian maestro of terror. Elevating the giallo in the 1970’s with his sense of style and an assured handle on twisting storylines in stone cold classics like DEEP RED and THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE he goes on to gift the world with SUSPIRIA, one of the greatest horror films ever made. He may have struggled to reach anywhere near those heights this century, especially since his last effort, the underwhelming DRACULA-3D, so hopes are high for this return to the directors chair after a decade. It may not come anywhere near his glory days, and witnessing the sight of the great man clearly humbled and touched by the outpouring of affection for him at that screening may colour this particular review, but it feels hard to begrudge this film for what it is; mainly a straight-up relentless and efficient thriller.


As ever a black gloved maniac is causing havoc, this time targeting sex workers and ruthlessly murdering them. Late at night, Diana finds herself being pursued by this mysterious homicidal maniac. Attempting to get away in her car she then finds herself at the centre of a car crash that robs her of her eyesight and kills the two passengers in the other car. The only person to walk away relatively unscathed is the son of the couple, a young Chinese boy named Chin. Barely getting to grip with the upheavals in their lives they soon find themselves under threat as the killer begins his relentless hunt, ruthlessly dispatching anyone who gets in his way.


Like his earlier CAT O’ NINE TAILS, we have a blind figure aided by a child at the centre of things. Unlike that intricately plotted film the narrative is pared back to the bone here. Clocking in at less than ninety minutes, Argento, working from a script that was originally set to be filmed a number of years ago, wastes no time with any such things as subtext, nuance or anything that could be seen as extraneous. Scenes are set immediately and every character is exactly who they are from the very frame they walk on screen to the moment they walk off, or are horribly murdered. Longtime fans may find themselves disappointed with Argento for shedding his show stopping, bravura style here. Aside from the impressively staged car crash and an outlandish episode involving Diana and Chin wading through a river filled with frenzied water snakes there is very little else to mark DARK EYES out as UN FILM DI DARIO ARGENTO, a credit that once promised something completely unique and memorable.


Despite the lack of any directorial signature this still represents a return to partial form for Argento, particularly after his previous disappointing entries. At this late stage in his career, it is nothing less than heartening to see Argento deliver something this full blooded and ruthless, especially in the year where he also delivered such an affecting and heartbreaking performance in Gaspar Noe’s VORTEX. Delivering such impressive work at eighty-two years old is impressive enough but the news he delivered at FrightFest that he is already at work on his next film, to be set in France, is downright heart warming. Long may he continue.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans