Thursday, June 08, 2017

Fear(s) of the Dark

Fear(s) of the Dark (2007; dirs. Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire) is a French animated film about terror. It consists of six mostly black and white sequences, each written and directed by a different animator, depicting unconnected but not unrelated scenarios of terror. In one sequence a young man fascinated with insects has a love affair with a woman he meets at a library. She is connected to a strange insect he found in the forest.  Although the film never really explains the connection, it certainly illustrates the consequences. One could see this sequence as an allegory of how love can turn into a form of cannibalism, of transformative terror. In another sequence, perhaps the most brilliant of the film, an unnamed man wanders out of a white snowy landscape and breaks into a house, apparently seeking protection from the elements. The dark and abandoned house turns out to be more than it seems. The way this sequence plays with darkness and light, with shadows and light, is innovative. In another sequence, influenced by Japanese animation, a young girl is trapped in a nightmare in which school bullies and the ghost of a samurai warrior haunt her. When she wakes from the nightmare, a strange menacing man tells her she needs to finish the dream and injects her with a sedative. Interspersed at various moments in the film are random geometric shapes, some symmetrical, some asymmetrical, that move around while a voice ponders existential questions and conundrums about life. In another set of scenes placed in between the longer ones, an old man with a pack of vicious dogs wanders the landscape. Each time we see him, he releases a dog to kill a victim. In still another sequence a strange beast menaces a country landscape. Although I didn't consider this film quite a success, it wasn't quite a failure. It held my interest. The different sequences were artfully done. Although they didn't add up to more than they might have, they were nonetheless stimulating. They offered a creative, unusual take on fear, on nightmares, on the night terrors with which our unconscious minds can haunt us.

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