Fears of the Dark
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I will start this off by saying that I love both Charles Burns and Romain Slocombe probably a great deal more than is healthy, so when I saw both names attached to this short (85 minutes) animated French movie, it was a no-brainer that I'd be watching it eventually. And while on some levels it's satisfying, it did feel as if it could have been better, or that what's here would have worked better on the page than it did on the screen.
We are given a number of little stories here, all framed by two different devices (one a narration about fear from a highly neurotic woman, another a wordless animation about an aristocrat and a pack of dogs he's trained to hunt humans). Burns' story appears first, and it's the best of the lot, soaked with Burns' own sexual neuroses that made Black Hole such an amazing read a few years ago. Marie Caillou's adaptation of Slocombe's story follows next, and to her credit, Caillou kept the stark, distressing tone of Slocombe's work intact. (Any Whitehouse fan will know it from the very first frame.) To a one, however, the stories are badly-paced, and while there are some really wonderful tricks in the animation in places, overall it seemed kind of crude. I'd recommend this only for established fans of the artists in question (along with Burns, Slocombe, and Caillou, you also get hits of Blutch, Pierre di Sciullo, Richard McGuire, Jerry Kramsky, Michael Pirus, and Lorenzo Mattotti, though the last only in a directorial capacity); others are likely to be either bored or annoyed. ** ½
'fear(s) of the dark' really is a classy production all around, belonging to the school of horror that sinks into your mind and messes with your perceptions of the orderly sunlit world, as opposed to the less introspective hack-and-slash, gore-for-gore's-sake movies that are more likely to plant butts in theatre seats.
beautifully animated in black and white, each segment represents the work and style of a different animator, each of whom is probably better known as a cartoonist. the variety of styles represented is very pleasing to the eye; each very different from the last, yet meshing together rather than working against each other. thematically, each segment deals with fear on a very intimate, very personal level: isolation, persecution, struggle, invasion, betrayal. where does the actual 'dark' begin and our perception of it end? i'll be thinking this one over for a while - with the lights on.
having read the other review (at this time, there is only one) on amazon, i'll admit i was puzzled: isn't this just a horror movie? what's with the politicking? fortunately, that reviewer had no idea what he or she was talking about. this is, to my eyes, an agenda-free film, and hooray for that.
it seems unlikely, in this age of unlimited 'saw' sequels, prequels and knockoffs, that a movie like this could ever be approved for any kind of funding. i'm awfully glad it did, though - it's a keeper.
There are six 'stories' in the film, though one, 'Hungry Dogs', is broken up into four parts, and another, 'Fears', serves as sort of an intermission between the entries, and is a narrator voicing particular fears while geometric forms and odd shapes twist and parade across the screen. The first traditional story, 'Laura', is by Charles Burns, who has a fairly large following in America after the publication of his graphic novel, 'Black Hole'. The interesting thing to me about Mr. Burns is his ability to create a sense of dread - oppressive dread - by juxtaposing normal activities with one bizarre, surprising element inserted at the beginning of the tale and then left to simmer in the reader's, or in this case, the viewer's imagination until the conclusion. 'Laura' is just such a story, and although it suffers a bit from a 'Twilight Zone' ending, there is a psychological element to it as well that only heightens the horribleness.
The next tale, 'Sumako', by Marie Caillou is presented as a Japanese ghost story, and is the weakest of the four conventional stores - a three out of five.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Macabre, not scary, not horror, not in English. Interesting work, good stories, makes one think a little to keep track of the events.Published on November 26, 2013 by frogzilla
I'll rewrite much of what I said on imdb.
This film is definitely not for everyone. It can be labeled artsy-fartsy, pretentious, intellectual, etc. Read more
Terrible pacing, stories and animation set this up to be one of the worst films I've ever seen. Every story in this had the pacing of a shambling geriatric shuffling his way to the... Read morePublished on March 1, 2011 by morebrumley
I want to keep this short. If you like Anime', and the unusual?
Wow. This Film is a Blast. Not for the Faint of Heart, or for Children.
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