‘Dark Glasses’ Review: Dario Argento’s Return is So-So

Daniel Rester reviews the horror film 'Dark Glasses,' the first film directed by Dario Argento in ten years.
User Rating: 5.8

‘Dark Glasses’ Review: Dario Argento’s Return is So-So

By Daniel Rester

It’s been ten years since horror maestro Dario Argento’s last film, the dismal Dracula 3D (2012). Before that feature, his other 2000s output was mostly negatively received too. Fans have been hoping that this decade-long gap has been good for Argento and that he has returned to form with his latest, Dark Glasses. Unfortunately, while Dark Glasses is a step in the right direction, the film is just a smidge above mediocre overall and can’t compete with Argento’s horror classics from the 1970s and 1980s. 

The setup for Dark Glasses takes a standard giallo storyline and mixes it with woman-in-peril and odd couple elements. Ilenia Pastorelli plays a prostitute named Diana, giving a performance that borders on camp at times (a scene involving snakes is more funny than terrifying). She becomes a target for a serial killer, who leaves her blinded after a car wreck. She then forms an unlikely friendship with Chin (Xinyu Zhang), a boy who was involved in the vehicle accident as well. The two try to evade the madman as he seeks to finish off Diana. 

Dark Glasses begins with a bizarre sequence involving an eclipse, with a quality that leaves the viewer uneasy as characters look to the sky.The first kill scene comes soon after that and is bloody and effective, with a brutal neck cutting. These scenes present a promising start, but the film soon becomes more straightforward as it shifts to Diana’s life. 

Once Diana becomes blinded, it’s an opportunity to explore the changes in this character’s life and it could allow her to develop. Instead, the script only gives us a couple of scenes of Diana adjusting (getting a guide dog, walking across a street, etc.). We never really feel the emotional toll of her situation. Her relationship with Chin feels underdeveloped too. Dark Glasses hits its end credits at just 82 minutes. It feels like the film is missing twenty extra minutes to build on such aspects. 

With Argento’s best work, he masked the weaker elements of plots with meticulous and vivid style and nail-biting suspense. Here, the director presents a few beautiful wide shots and blue palettes, but most of the time the staging is competent but unremarkable. A suspenseful scene in an abandoned building arrives near the end, but Dark Glasses lacks such tension and favors thumping music and quick attacks instead for many other scenes. It makes one long for Argento’s past precision. Even a key scene involving a dog makes one think of the similar – and much better – dog scene in Suspiria (1977). 

Dark Glasses isn’t a terrible film at all, remaining watchable throughout. Actress Asia Argento is solid in it as a supporting character named Rita, and the early scenes are enjoyable. But calling a Dario Argento film just “watchable” is disappointing. It would be nice to say he has made another great work before his career ends (he is 82). At least we’ll always have his past films to celebrate, such as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebrae (1982), Phenomena (1985), and Opera (1987). 

My Grade: 5.8/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)

Running Time: 1h 26min

Dark Glasses premiered on Shudder on October 13, 2022.

5.8
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Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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