Review: ‘Dark Glasses’ Is an Imperfectly Ambitious Giallo
3.5 stars out of 5!
When you say or type the name Dario Argento around horror fans who LOVE giallo, you’re in for excited gasps. Of course, not everyone loves Argento. Hell, there are some folks (such as me) who are most familiar with Suspiria (1977), which has one of the most polarizing remakes out there. But that’s beside the point. The point is Argento hadn’t directed anything since 2012, and Dark Glasses (2022) is quite the return to make. To some it may not be but hey, you can’t win everyone over.
Dark Glasses is a giallo that focuses on a sex worker named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) who becomes blind after an accident evidently caused by a serial killer. She gains help from Chin (Xinyu Zhang), the boy who survived the crash, in trying to take down this killer once and for all. Given this is a giallo, there’s a whole lot of blood. Plus elements that required you to suspend disbelief—more specifically the ending (which I won’t spoil for you, but it’s really something). And while the film is visually striking, it’s not exactly perfect. I wouldn’t say it’s on the same level of Suspiria (1977), nor will it go down as a classic, at least not to me. But there are positive aspects without a doubt.
For starters, Diana isn’t presented as low down or pathetic because she’s a sex worker. She isn’t ashamed of herself, either. Before her accident, she’s rather confident and is smart when it comes to protecting herself. But her luck slips away when a serial killer (who is targeting sex workers) causes her to get into an accident. It does kill all (minor spoiler) but one of the individuals in the other vehicle. As Diana tries to adjust to her disability, Chin eventually befriends her. They develop a bond and it’s very sweet to watch them work together. It’s actually one of the highlights of the film.
The film could’ve easily leaned into ableism and anti sex work messaging. Unless I’m wrong, Dark Glasses doesn’t come across that way. Diana’s allowed to be flawed, and Chin isn’t forced to be a grown up. Whether it’s intentional or not, there’s some commentary woven in due to those 2 points. With Diana being a disabled sex worker and Chin being an Asian boy are a duo you rarely see in horror. For all that could’ve been done better in this film, there are a few things to still hold onto.
Though Dark Glasses does fall apart where the writing is concerned. It feels like everything happens quickly for the characters. It doesn’t feel like enough time elapsed for Diana to become that comfortable with her disability. Even with the help of her service dog. Not to mention the serial killer having the upper hand as much as he did. So much of the film felt convenient for the wrong characters. But ultimately the very pathetic reasoning the serial killer has feels the most real. How when fragile men feel insulted, they’ll do whatever they please to avenge that. Essentially, it’s up to you to figure out whether or not the negatives weigh down everything else.
You can watch Dark Glasses on Shudder!
(featured image: Shudder)
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