by Hope Madden
Giallo is the soap opera of horror, and you have to embrace that to appreciate it. Emotion and drama, tension, fear and sexuality are amped up to a ludicrous degree, with sense and sensibility tossed out the window.
Few have ever done this as well as Dario Argento. I’d argue Mario Bava, but many consider Argento the king of giallo, and with good reason – his landmark 1977 film Suspiria may be the high-water mark for the entire genre. After a decade away from filmmaking in general and longer still since his last giallo, Argento returns to form with Dark Glasses.
Passions run high and bad decisions are rampant as Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) attempts to evade a serial killer. But wait, it’s more complicated than that! You see, she’s also blind and has sort of kidnapped this kid. It’s better if you don’t ask.
Though the score is not from Goblin, composer Arnaud Rebotini’s electronic soundtrack conjures classic giallo. Indeed, between those recognizable chimes and an early throat severing, you’d think you were watching Argento of old. But the filmmaker does have a couple new ideas in store, and marginally less misogyny onscreen.
Diana’s a harder-edged protagonist than what you find in other films from the Italian maestro. A high-end sex worker, she’s nonplussed about her line of work and disinterested in anyone else’s opinion of it. She’s a peculiar central character and Argento, who co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Franco Ferrini (Opera, Phenomena), gives her more to do than elude victimization. She develops skills and bonds in the second act that feel reasonable and realistic, sometimes even tender. It helps ground the film in character before those characters step into a den of watersnakes and remind you that you are essentially watching a soap opera.
There are some inventive kills, gore aplenty, and loads of reminders of why Argento has developed such a boisterous following. This is by no means his best film, but it’s by no means his worst, either.
Everyone yells when they shouldn’t yell, everyone pauses when they shouldn’t pause, everyone talks when they shouldn’t talk, but who cares when the blood is this red and free-flowing?