Sunday, May 22, 2022

An Argento Blind Act: Black Glasses (2022)

Black Glasses (Occhiali Neri) (Italy, 2022) (AKA "Dark Glasses")
Rating: ***
Starring: Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento and Andrea Gherpelli

Last we saw of Dario Argento in the horror business, it was 2012 and he decided to do a creative take on Dracula, this including shooting the entire project in 3D and giving the titular vampire lord the ability to turn into a man-sized praying mantis for shits and giggles. Unsurprisingly, that little stunt sets a new low for one of Italy's horror maestros and we didn't see another horror flick from him until a decade later, in what can be described as the man's attempted return to form. And the key word here is "attempted".

In Black Glasses (2022), modern day Rome is terrorized by a serial killer who is slaughtering their way through sex workers with a cello string. One such high-end escort, Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli), gets a very close call to being another corpse for the bodycount when, after attending a client who got a tad too handsy on her, she suddenly finds herself being attacked by an obscured assailant. As she made her way to her car and speed off, her attacker catches on with their cargo van, leading to a pursuit that ends with Diana crashing through another car.

The accident leaves our leading call girl blind after her spine suffers a hemorrhage. She also learns that the occupants of the other car, a Chinese family, is survived by a single boy named Chin (Xinyu Zhang), now under a church's care home after the crash killed his father and slipped his mother into a coma. As Diana learns to cope with her condition, she finds help through a friendly educator named Rita (cult favorite Asia Argento), gets a trained guide dog and tries to make amends with Chin by visiting him at the care home.

Chin, tired of the racist kids he have to put up with, decided to run away and stay with Diana. The two soon bonds and will eventually have to rely on one another when our killer, keeping a close eye on the one who got away, starts to stalk them with the intent to finish what they started, murdering anybody who got in their way in the meantime.

From start to finish, Black Glasses (2022) practically runs on cheap thrills and basic slasher tropes which is something you'll either loathe or tolerate depending on how well you take your B-grade celluloid. Frankly, there is a lot of opportunities for the film to go a little deeper in its story considering the number of angles the plot could've focused on like Diana adjusting to her blindness or being a surrogate mother to an orphaned boy, but all of it was rushed and shallowed to make way for a more standardized slasher plot, complete with uselessly inept cops, a stalk and chase sequence in the woods and a moderately sizable killcount. (Curiously, though, for a film wherein the protagonist is a prostitute, we don't get a lot of onscreen sleaze here. Some boobs, yes, but that's it)

Any hinted mystery regarding the killer's identity also gets the short unexplored end as halfway into the movie, we're unceremoniously treated to a reveal that isn't really all that surprising, even more when the killer's motive behind their killing spree is so underwhelmingly staple. This leaves us to a whole final act of Diana and Chin running, limping and hiding in a countryside backwoods from the psycho, which does takes its sweet time bringing in as many shenanigans as possible (random snake attack, a couple of hunters getting into a brawl with the killer) before treating us with a climax that have our villain squaring off with Diana's guide dog (Carnivorous flies and chimpanzees in Phenomena (1985). Ravens in Opera (1987). I'm starting to see a pattern here, Argento...) at the sacrifice of a good spot of suspense that's unrealized throughout.

It may all sounds like an uninspired mess and you're probably right about that in many aspects, but Black Glasses (2022) does make itself worth its time with its slick pacing, efficient enough performances from its casts, a rocking electronic synth scored by Arnaud Rebotini and a better-looking production value all in all. Its outrageous premise is simply fun for how hammy it is, garnering some unintended humor, all the while delivering on the red stuff whenever the film felt like giving us a gruesome death so I wouldn't call it a complete loss as clunky as this movie in properly developing its plot and characters. 

It's entertaining in its efforts and if you're not looking for much, then I can safely say that this flick should do fine as a mid-tier horror genre offering, a somewhat sincere reflection to what Dario Argento used to do best.

1 female garroted with a cello string, bled to death from throat cut
1 male had his head crushed in car crash
1 male hit with a van
1 female knifed in the back
1 female strangled with a rope
1 female implied to have succumbed to her injuries from a car crash
1 male mauled in the neck by a dog
Total: 7

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