Black Glasses (2022) poster

Black Glasses (2022)


(aka Dark Glasses)
(Occhiali Neri)

Italy/France. 2022.


Director – Dario Argento, Screenplay – Dario Argento & Franco Ferrini, Producers – Conchita Airoldi, Brahm Chioura, Laurence Clerc, Noëmie Devide, Laurentina Guidotti & Vincent Maraval, Photography – Matteo Cocco, Music – Arnaud Rebotini, Makeup Effects/Prosthetics/Animatronics – Sergio Stivaletti Studio (Supervisor – Sergio Stivaletti), Production Design – Marcello Di Carlo. Production Company – Urania Pictures/Getaway Films/Rai Cinema/Canal+/Cine+/Vision Distribution/Sky.


Ilenia Pastorelli (Diana), Xinyu Zhang (Chin), Asia Argento (Rita), Andrea Gherpelli (Matteo), Mario Pirrello (Chief Inspector Aleardi), Maria Rosario Russo (Inspector Bajani), Gennaro Iaccarino (Inspector Baldacci)


In Rome, a serial killer is targeting prostitutes. One prostitute Diana realises that she is being is followed by a man in a van. She flees, only to crash into another vehicle. She comes around in hospital to find that the crash has blinded her. She adjusts to living life as a blind person and is given a guide dog. Learning that the Chinese couple in the car she collided with were killed, she goes to the orphanage to visit their surviving son Chin. After she stands up to protect Chin from bullies, he follows her home and decides he wants to stay. Diana needs to go back to prostitution to start bringing in money to support them. The police come looking for Chin and say they will return with a search warrant. Diana and Chin flee to the countryside home of her support worker Rita. However, the killer in the van is following. The blind Diana is left trying to evade him as best she can in impaired circumstances.

Dario Argento is the director that people most associate with the Giallo Film – a series of directorially extravagant psycho-thrillers that came with a psycho-sexual undertow. The Argento cult rests on the series of horror films he made throughout the 1970s and 80s with the likes of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), Deep Red (1976), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebrae/Unsane (1982), Phenomena/Creepers (1985) and Opera (1987). After that period, the point also when giallo started to go out of fashion, Argento continued to make a series of uneven films with the likes of Two Evil Eyes (1990), Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), The Phantom of the Opera (1998), Sleepless (2001), The Card Player (2004), Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007) and Giallo (2009), all of which have been regarded as disappointments. Most recently, Argento’s name took a serious plummet with his disastrous adaptation of Dracula (2012).

Argento’s films, particularly those this side of the year 2000, if not the year 1990, have been coasting by on his past successes and his cult name recognition factor. Efforts like Sleepless and in particular The Card Player have felt like giallo by the numbers. Every so often, there would be a flash of what Argento was in his heyday but the slide in quality was noticeable. And then there was the fiasco of Dracula, which was an embarrassment after which even the die-hard fans were willing to write Argento off.

Black Glasses is the first Dario Argento film in the decade since Dracula. Indeed, 2022 suddenly offers a potential second wind for the now 81 year-old Argento. A few months after Black Glasses premiered, Argento also made an acting appearance in Gaspar Noe’s Vortex (2022), playing the husband of an elderly couple dealing with dementia.

Ilenia Pastorelli in Black Glasses (2022)
After being blinded, Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) returns to a life as a prostitute

The good news is that Black Glasses is an improvement over Dracula. The film opens with Ilenia Pastorelli walking into a park during an eclipse and putting on the titular glasses – this is a scene that seems to have no relevance to anything else, although she keeps wearing the glasses thereafter, even before she becomes blind. We then cut to a scene where a prostitute leaves a hotel and is attacked by a man hidden in the bushes who kills her right there in the street, leaving her lying on the sidewalk with her throat slit and gushing blood. It is here that you start to feel that Dario Argento is flexing his muscles again and getting back to the heyday of the 1970s/80s giallo film.

On the other hand, Black Glasses slows right down after that point. Argento gives us the occasionally interesting scenes showing Ilenia Pastorelli adjusting to life as a blind woman – even trying to go back to being a prostitute while blind. These scenes are interspersed with Chinese kid Xinyu Zhang deciding to adopt her. If nothing else, this makes Black Glasses the only kid friendly film that Dario Argento has made.

However, while the psycho of the show continues to act as a menace and there are assorted suspense sequences with Ilenia and the kid fleeing, the film is sorely lacking in any of Argento’s characteristic style or even his ultra-violent set-pieces (aside from the one at the start). Even the cinematographic palette he is using lacks any of the vivid contrasts of colour that marked his works between the 1970s and 80s, making this just a regular thriller shot by standard camerawork.

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , ,
Themes: , , ,