Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Argento’s Dark Glasses, on Shudder

Looking elegant is often a requirement for giallo characters and Diana is definitely stylish in her dark sunglasses. Tragically, they are now part of her mandatory uniform, after she was blinded during a stalker’s attack. As she acclimates to her new reality, she must also fend off the obsessive serial killer in giallo-master Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses, which premieres Thursday on Shudder.

In a bit of foreshadowing, Diana irritates her eyes while observing a solar eclipse. Remember kids, keep making those pinhole cameras. Unfortunately, Diana’s chosen field of sex work often attracts psychopaths, both movies and real-life. The man with a black van has already slashed several of her colleagues to death. That will be a white van, after he transfers some paint during his latest escape.

Diana was supposed to be his next victim, but she technically escaped with her life when he rammed her car into incoming traffic. Not only was she blinded, young Chin’s Chinese immigrant father was killer and his mother was rendered comatose, with little hope of revival. Initially, he resents Diana, but they soon form an unlikely bond. He will be part of her support system, along with Rita, a volunteer counselor for the newly blind, and Nerea, her new guide dog—especially Nerea.

Dark Glasses
is a decent psycho-stalker horror film, but it feels remarkably similar to Argento’s Do You Like Hitchcock in its tone and intimate scoop. However, the former film also knowingly riffed on and channeled Hitchcock, which gave it a more distinctive identity.

In the case of
Glasses, Argento gives viewers a blind woman and a young orphan in jeopardy, for double the manipulation. However, it represents a return to his signature style, after the much-maligned gothic horror of Dracula 3D. Honestly, it still looks cool. The bloody violence pops off the screen, just as it does in his best films. It is based on a past screenplay that was mothballed due to the production company’s insolvency, but it feels like a deliberate effort to get back to basics.

Ilenia Pastorelli plays Diana like a textbook Argento heroine—appearing defiantly independent and coolly aloof on the outside, but ragingly anxious and vulnerable underneath the façade. Both Asia Argento (somewhat playing against type) and Andrea Zhang serve as effective foils to bring out her softer human side, as Rita and Chin. Nevertheless, the revelation of the killer is quite underwhelming, in an is-that-really-all-there-is-to-it kind of way. At least Nerea’s star-making performance helps set
Glasses apart.

is a serviceable Argento film, but everything it does competently Hitchcock does better, except for its superior flashiness. It so looks the part, hardcore Argento fans will likely forgive its average elements. Plus, Nerea is quite the good dog. Recommended as a gets-the-job-done Argento giallo, Dark Glasses starts streaming Thursday (10/13), on Shudder.