Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) is left blind following a car accident after being chased by a killer targeting prostitutes on the streets of Rome. As she recovers, Diana connects with young boy Chin (Andrea Zhang) whose father was killed and mother is in a coma after being involved in the same accident that left Diana without her sight. Together, the unlikely duo to evade the killer until they are forced into a terrifying confrontation.
It’s fair to say that at the age of 81, it’s remarkable that iconic giallo pioneer Dario Argento is still making films. Peaking in the 70s and the 80s with films such as ‘The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’, ‘Suspiria’ and ‘Tenebrae’, Argento has struggled to match that success with his later work, much of which features his actor daughter Asia Argento. ‘Dark Glasses’ is his first film in a decade (his last was the much-derided ‘Dracula 3D’ in 2012) and it’s an attempt by Argento to remind people why he became such a force in the horror genre.
Originally written in 2002, ‘Black Glasses’ was unearthed by Argento’s daughter while writing her autobiography ‘Anatomy of a Wild Heart’, which was released in 2021. At its heart the film tries hard to imitate the thrill of Argento’s early work, combining shocking yet stylish murders with a storyline that is full on intrigue. Initially Argento’s aim is achieved. While the film may look considerably lower budget than his classics, ‘Dark Glasses’ sets up its premise nicely. Opening with a brutal murder, the audience is quickly introduced to Diana and taken on her journey as she struggles to adjust to life as a blind woman.
Feeling terrible for her part in what happened to Chin’s parents, Diana visits him in a children’s home and despite initially blaming her, Chin runs away and tracks Diana down. Knowing she could get into a lot of trouble for keeping the boy, Diana tries to protect him and keep the police away from her door. So far, so good, even if the story is already stretching credibility by this point.
Unfortunately, things quickly start to fall apart. The introduction of Asia Argento as Rita, a woman helping Diana adjust to her new life, kickstarts a steep downward trajectory for the film as it descends into muddled chaos with a startlingly over-the-top performance from leading woman Ilenia Pastorelli. Diana’s actions get more and more ridiculous as she tries to outsmart a killer she can’t see, and the film stumbles into a few too many head-scratching moments along the way.
While the plot and the acting may leave plenty to be desired, ‘Dark Glasses’ isn’t without its charms. Argento’s style is very evident from the camera work to the set pieces and everything in between. There’s also a strong soundtrack from Arnaud Rebotini, who emulates the classic Goblin sound that soundtracked many of Argento’s greatest films.
‘Dark Glasses’ most certainly isn’t an Argento classic but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I found it very entertaining. At times unintentionally hilarious, the film remains watchable even when it’s at its most preposterous. Long-time fans of Argento will undoubtedly check out the film regardless of what the critics say but if you’re new to the iconic film-maker, I highly suggest you dive into his back catalogue rather than watching this film.
Cast: Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento, Andrea Gherpelli, Andrea Zhang Director: Dario Argento Writers: Dario Argento & Franco Ferrini Certificate: 18 Duration: 86 mins Released by: Shudder