Fear(s) of the Dark (IFC Films, NR)

film_fears_sm.jpgThe fear inspired by these stories is more akin to dread, a slow, creeping suspicion that something is not quite right and that the world may not be as familiar and predictable as we thought it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 film_fears.jpg

A friendless university student finds the girlfriend of his dreams. A Japanese girl wakes up from a truly horrifying nightmare. The beast terrorizing a rural community is killed. A man, caught in a blizzard, finds shelter in an empty house.

In Fear(s) of the Dark, a stylish anthology of animated tales, such events are not an occasion for rejoicing, but the beginning of a journey into fear—not the obvious and easily shed terrors of slasher films, but something much more insidious.

The fear inspired by these stories is more akin to dread, a slow, creeping suspicion that something is not quite right and that the world may not be as familiar and predictable as we thought it was. Even worse, a sense of resignation pervades the stories: Fear(s) of the Dark takes place in a universe where you can’t be sure of anything, except perhaps that there are no heroes who will arrive to set things right.

Each story is drawn by a different artist, all in black and white; together, they use a wide variety of graphic styles, from the clean ink drawings of Charles Burns to the expressive pencil style of Blutch (Christian Hincker) and the abstract, geometric animations of Pierre di Sciullo. Several actors provide the voices (in French, with English subtitles), including Aure Atika, Nicole Garcia, Louisa Pili and Guillaume Depardieu.

The four main stories are framed by the tale of an 18th-century nobleman who orders his dogs to attack apparently random victims, and a monologue in which a woman endlessly discusses her fears. Every viewer will have their own favorite story, and artistic style; for me, the standout was Richard McGuire’s wordless segment. In this tale, a man caught in a blizzard takes refuge in a house which, rather than providing him sanctuary, turns out to be haunted. McGuire’s pure black-and-white style makes amazing use of negative space and the gestalt theory of reification (that’s where your mind completes a figure which is only partially suggested by the artist).

Although some of the stories in Fear(s) of the Dark are clearly grounded in a world similar to ours, and have an obvious payoff—the story of the seduced university student is reminiscent of a vintage Twilight Zone episode crossed with the spirit of pre-code horror comics—others are deliberately ambiguous as to where and when they are taking place, and end without obvious resolution. And that’s when things get really scary. | Sarah Boslaugh

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply