Monday, November 16, 2009

Fear(s) of the Dark (2007)

Fear(s) of the Dark is an animated anthology featuring black and white shorts of varying artistic styles. The result is simply stunning and there is no doubt that fans of animated horror and comic books will dig this amazing French film.

The stories all deal with different kinds of horror, from classic Cronenberg-like body horror to the horrors of growing up and relationships to the overarching theme of the anthology – fear of the unknown.

The film begins with a wrap-around story by Blutch featuring a scary old man dressed in period clothing walking a pack of menacing dogs. Between segments he ambles across the rugged countryside and decrepit city, loosing his dogs on unsuspecting people. This wrap-around segment is just beautiful to look at and is artfully rendered in what looks like charcoal. Out of all the segments, this was my favorite aesthetically. It has such texture and wonderful depth! Plus, the old man is frighteningly and hideously scary!

The style of most of the stories was simple black and white line drawings, so don’t be expecting too much fancy animation (with the exception of the wrap-around story mentioned above). Yet, even though the animation was simple I really enjoyed each and every one of the stories. They were each different, both in style and in narrative. My favorite of the tales was probably the last segment, about a haunted house of sorts, by Richard McGuire. The use of lighting (which was mainly candlelight) here really helped the narrative and created a tense atmosphere. I also loved Charles Burns’ tale of a humanoid insect that burrows under the skin of its captor’s girlfriend. The gaping wounds and body horror associated with the story reminded me much of Cronenberg’s films.

The only portions I wasn’t too fond of were the interspersed segments where people talk about what they fear (both irrational and rational fears) against a background of abstract black and white shapes. These segments just made me feel like I was sitting in on a psychiatrist’s appointments having to listen to people’s strange neuroses! I really feel these took away from the stark beauty of the rest of the stories.

All in all, though, Fear(s) of the Dark is an exciting, unique and beautiful anthology of stories fit for anyone who appreciates animation.

Order it on Amazon!

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