DARK GLASSES (2022) 22 reviews of Dario Argento’s Giallo thriller

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Dark Glasses is a 2022 French-Italian Giallo thriller film about a serial killer nicknamed “The Cellist” stalking a blind high-class call girl. Also known as Black Glasses

Directed by Dario Argento from a screenplay co-written with Franco Ferrini and Carlo Lucarelli. Co-produced by Conchita Airoldi (actress in Torso; The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh), Asia Argento and Laurentina Guidotti. The electro soundtrack score was composed by Arnaud Rebotini.

The Getaway Films/Urania Pictures co-production stars Ilenia Pastorelli, Guglielmo Favilla, Maria Rosaria Russo, Andrea Zhang, Fabrizio Eleuteri and Cristiano Simone Iannone. The filmmaker’s daughter Asia Argento (Mother of Tears; The Stendhal Syndrome; Trauma) also has a role.


In Rome, a serial killer has strangled three prostitutes with cello rope. Nicknamed “The Cellist”, the murderer’s last rope is destined for Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli), a luxury escort who frequents the hotels of Via Veneto.

One night, the maniac chases driving a white van and rams her, sending her crashing into another car. She awakens in the hospital, shrouded in darkness. The diagnosis is final: she lost her sight in the crash.

Rita (Asia Argento), a young woman from the Blind Society, helps Diana with her first steps in the darkness and in her new life; in the meantime, the police investigate, unsuccessfully.

However, it won’t stop there. The Cellist must finish his work. Diana, helped by Chinese orphan Chin, can only try to escape. The cat-and-mouse game has just begun…


Our review:
After a string of disappointing releases over several years, horror legend Dario Argento has finally returned to form with Dark Glasses, a pulse-pounding suspense mystery which will no doubt leave his fans willing to finally forgive him for Dracula 3D. It goes without saying that Dark Glasses will likely be remembered as one of the best films to have been released towards the end of Argento’s career, as he is now in his eighties. And admirers of the director’s work are likely to be reminded of why they came to love his pictures in the first place after watching Dark Glasses.

Ilenia Pastorelli stars as Diana, an attractive young Italian sex worker who was tragically blinded in a car collision. After struggling to adjust to her newfound life without the ability to see, Diana also begins to suspect that the crash she was involved with may not have been accidental and that the man responsible for ploughing his van into her car may still be determined to finish her off. Argento dedicates a significant amount of time to show the hardships faced by Diana due to her blindness, as even formerly simple tasks such as preparing a meal prove to be challenging for her. At the same time, Dark Glasses also does not shy away from showcasing the abuse people with disabilities often receive, as we see a police officer violently shoving Diana out of the way so he can search her apartment, without even having a warrant. Most of us have probably met individuals who do not view people with disabilities as actual people, and this scene will be particularly harrowing for anyone who has ever experienced anything similar throughout their lives.

Luckily for Diana, she was not alone in her hardships, as she was introduced to a number of devoted friends following her accident. She adopts a guide dog named Nerea, who proves to be a fiercely loyal companion as the story progresses, and she also befriends a young boy called Chin (Xinyu Zhang), who also lost his parents in the same crash she was involved with. Zhang is clearly an exceptionally talented young actor, and you will not doubt for a second that Chin is a boy who is wise beyond his years and who also knows and accepts that he was robbed of having a normal childhood. Despite his age, Zhang also proves to have more sense than most of the adult supporting cast, leaving him to often be the one who was forced to make rational decisions in times of crisis. While Pastorelli delivered a satisfying performance as Diana, it goes without saying that Zhang’s portrayal of Chin is one of the main highlights of Dark Glasses.

The actual kills themselves were just as brutal as you would expect from an Argento picture, as the elderly director clearly has not lost his touch when it comes to shocking his audiences. We see a woman being garrotted on a public street in the opening, which immediately lets us know what we are in for, and each consecutive kill was more gruesome than the last. Whether it happens to be the bloody aftermath of the previously mentioned traffic collision or the sight of a person’s throat literally being torn to shreds, it quickly becomes evident that Argento is aware that fans expect huge levels of gore from his projects, and he does not fail to deliver.

But with a runtime of just eighty-seven minutes, viewers are likely to question the inclusion of several pointless scenes which could have instead been replaced with sequences devoted to character development. For instance, there was an extended sequence where Diana and Chin flee through a river and find themselves being attacked by a nest of water snakes, which was no doubt suspenseful but did not serve much of an overall purpose. It would also have been welcome to have more scenes of Diana bonding with her support worker, Rita (played by Asia Argento), who inexplicably disappears after the first act. However, without going into spoilers, the entire climax, in which Diana and Chin were forced to confront the killer who had been hunting them, was pure nightmare fuel. While the rest of the film did seem a little uneven at times, Argento still managed to deliver a largely satisfying third act which will no doubt help viewers to overlook issues with the rest of the movie.

It will probably not be remembered as his best film, but Dark Glasses proves that Argento clearly has not lost his touch. He may now be an octogenarian, but the Italian director still knows how to create a haunting and highly-effective horror picture in which a helpless protagonist finds themselves being pursued by a malevolent force. At the same time, the film also dared to address the way in which people with disabilities are wrongly undervalued by society, which is certainly a topic which needs more recognition. Argento no doubt wanted to make viewers reevaluate how they treat others, and Dark Glasses certainly succeeded on this front. So while Dark Glasses is not Argento’s magnum opus, it was still an impressive and thought-provoking effort to emerge from the latter portion of his career.
David Gelmini, MOVIES and MANIA

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Other reviews:
” …it improves upon his past works, shows reference for the past and hopefully gives him the opportunity to continue to make films. I liked it — and not in that way that I feel indebted to Argento and have to say things like Sleepless is great up to the train scene — and appreciate that I cared more about its characters than any of his in some time.” B&S About Movies

” …plays out almost like a parody of his earlier work […] It lacks the suspense and style of Argento’s work in the 70s and 80s while repeating various themes […] The chase scenes have potential cult appeal, but there’s little interest in the killer’s psychology.” Deadline

” …gets in and gets out before it can ever feel close to leaden, even if the third act is a tad long-winded and the killer’s inevitable unmasking proves to be a wildly underwhelming shoulder shrug. Dark Glasses may be an overfamiliar and unambitious victory lap for Dario Argento, but it’s still a gas to see the 81-year-old auteur back in the filmmaking saddle.” Flickering Myth

” …has its moments of macabre and melodramatic invention – there’s a genuinely unsettling opening sequence […] But a lot of the time it is bizarre in the wrong ways, with clunkingly absurd plot transitions, sudden B-picture-type money-saving closeups on the mangled, bloodstained faces of people who’ve supposedly just been stabbed or hit…” 2/5 The Guardian

Dark Glasses is never all that scary, and some of it is just plain silly, but if you take it at face value it can be enjoyable enough to sit through — more of a reminder of what Argento used to do best than an example in its own right. He’s always been a master at creating dark urban moods, and here he ominously captures a vacant Rome in partial ruins, lying in wait for another body to drop.” The Hollywood Reporter

” …in replacing the more baroque orchestrations of Argento’s earlier work with something more frontal and direct, this particular ride never reaches the same heights, never gets the blood flowing in quite the same way. That this older Argento has perhaps neither the time nor inclination for the Grand Guignol set pieces of his halcyon days should come as with little surprise; though his fire stills burns and taste for blood runs strong…” IndieWire

” …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.” 2 out of 5, Moria

“It sets itself up as a classic Giallo – right down to the title – and then throws any sense of mystery away because it can’t wait to pointlessly reveal who the uninteresting killer is; it also seems to riff on Friday the 13th-era horrors by making him seemingly indestructible for no good reason. For long chunks of the narrative, it seems as though the film has forgotten that it is a horror movie at all, wallowing in half-baked sentimentality…” The Reprobate

“A by-the-book woman-in-peril chiller – with a kid in peril added to up the ante – the director’s first film since 2012’s Dracula 3D has a few moments of flamboyant style, but these are surface trimmings on a preposterous, creakily old-school number […] while fans will no doubt be glad to see him back, they may be dismayed by the lack of imagination on display here.” Screen Daily

“In this film’s marvelous opening scene, the auteur finds in eclipses a symbol for the kind of dangerous spectacle that he’s been arranging for decades. But after this brilliantly constructed series of images, Dark Glasses gives the impression only of a Giallo doodle.” 1.5/ Slant

“Everything that might attract Argento’s rabid core of fans is briskly announced upfront: the film does have the sinuously elegant camerawork that’s his trademark, along with a score that ping-pongs between spacey ambience and thrusting palpitations […] The stunt shot for Diana’s near-fatal collision at a crossroads is nothing if not technically outstanding […] the pacing gets feeble, dawdling through the aftermath.” 2/5 The Telegraph

“While playing with the horror of the unseen, the production doesn’t have the pervasive thrill of films like Wait Until Dark. The tension abates somewhat as the adventures the characters experience on their flight touch upon the fanciful. Derivative of some of his previous work, Dark Glasses is not an Argento masterpiece […] Instead, it is an enjoyable flick…” The Upcoming

“There’s a lot to like here, even if it often feels like there’d be even more to like had Argento seen fit to dial it back a little […] There are a few reprieves from the violence, however. The scenes in which Diana first adjusts to a sightless life — something she does with the help of an aide played by Asia Argento — are among the film’s best…” Variety


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