Movie Review: Dario Argento’s “Dark Glasses”

There’s got to be some truth to the myth that the phrase “an acquired taste” was first applied, in Italian, to that guru of gore Dario Argento and eventually translated into English.

Which makes his latest, “Dark Glasses,” something of a puzzle. It’s one of the most conventional thrillers we’ve ever seen from the creator of “Deep Red,” “Demons” and “Suspiria.” Sure, it’s gory. The opening murder in this serial killer story is practically a beheading. But the plot, characters and deaths served up are pretty damned humdrum by Argento standards.

A guy in a van is running around, wearing a mask and killing Roman prostitutes. But one victim, Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) is tough enough and lucky enough to survive his assault, which ended in a car crash that he caused. It left Diana blind and a little boy (Andrea Zhang) orphaned.

The killing spree started the evening after a solar eclipse, so Diana was already in “Dark Glasses (Occhiali Neri)” due to a careless glance. Now, she can’t see at all. She’s assigned a seeing-eye Alsatian and a “trainer” (Asia Argento).

The tactless/hapless cops (Mario Pirello plays the lead detective) are wondering “Did he have it in for you?” (in Italian with English subtitles) owing to her line of work, which just gets Diana’s back up. As she struggles to learn this new life, she guiltily goes to see the little boy whose parents were killed when she was rammed into their car.

When little Chin (Zhang) flees Catholic school, it’s Diana he tracks down. Great. The blind woman’s circle of potential victims just grew again. Because you know the murderer is coming for her.

Argento may stay on brand with this film, with a few gory moments amid its violence. But he’s rarely tamed things to the point where they’re pro forma, dull and preordained.

He takes us point by point through an unexciting escalation of perils Diana and Chin face as they flee their fates. He somehow manages to achieve a fine denouement. And then he ruins even that with a sappy epilogue.

Maybe he’s mellowing in his 80s. But in casting his daughter, one more time, at least he gave Anthony Bourdain fans what they want.

Rating: unrated, graphic bloody violence, sex work, nudity

Cast: Ilenia Pastorelli, Asia Argento, Andrea Zhang, Mario Pirello and Andrea Gherpelli.

Cast: Directed by Dario Argento, scripted by Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini. A StudioCanal film on Shudder.

Running time: 1:26

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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