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Fear(s) of the Dark (2007) Review - Transmutations of Fears and Images

Updated on March 8, 2015

Fear(s) of the dark is composed mainly of three parts, alternated in an almost regular order of appearance throughout all the movie. So, there's a count with four canines, three of them released deliberately to a little boy, a female dancer and a worker, with the last one turning against his own owner.

Secondly, a female speaker suggesting from time to time the spirit of an exhausted, unprincipled and sometimes paranoiac person, as noticed even by the tonalities of her voice and choice of words. Although there’re moments in these pieces where logic and harsh criticism overcomes the irrational sense of absurd. “I’m afraid of…” – that’s what the speaker begins her debating about racism, irrational eating, democracy... You can even get a feeling of strong auto-criticism deriving from her deduction.

The stories of Eric, Ayakawa and desolated landscapes

And there’s the last part composed of four bizarre stories, which, in a way or another, remind someone of the character of Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

There’s Eric, a young man who has been secluded from the world living in a remote place for a long time and who grows an interest in the study of insects, especially for one which becomes his nightmare from that moment on as it strangely disappears. As years go by, he enters university. In the big city he finds it difficult to get acquainted as people (usually young women) make ironic reproaches of his numbness. Then there’s Laura, who develops a strong feeling of possession towards Eric after one night spent with him and where she gets a deep cut caused by the same insect who disappeared years ago. Laura never leaves Eric’s room, she goes out only to buy food, never goes to lectures, cuts her hair. The insect becomes her: secluded, ready to attack, fornicating. In the end you get the image of the insect the size of Laura put symbolically in front of her as serving her viciousness.

A dream within a dream. Or almost. Ayakawa Sumako is the newest student in a Japanese province school. She finds herself repeatedly in the bed of a hospital in endless agony and a supposedly doctor with the Frankenstein-ian face who’s continuously injecting drugs to her as soon as she gains conscience. You get to know Hajime, a dead Samurai of Edo era who had been once executed because of killing an English teacher, an outsider. As the story goes on, you get to know that for Ayakawa, the memory of Hajime and classmates bullying her has become an endless torture.

In the third story, one thing that strikes most are the shades of black and white that follow no rule. A boy who happens to pass the summer in the house of his relatives and experiences a set of bizarre events: the disappearance of his uncle and his friend in strange circumstances, the death of a farmer and the giant crocodile which was supposedly responsible for the incidents.

A family photo album, a woman and a men breaking in a desolated house. That’s what the fourth story is made up. And a spider. Shortly, the curious man tries to get everywhere in the house, but remains stuck in a single room from where he can get a glimpse of the outside world shouting desperately in search for help. Before that, a series of events pass that have to do with a woman in a black dress with white flowers. As the man continues his search through the house, she appears and disappears continuously behind his back, in a mirror, serving him tea... It is the same woman who appears tearing off a doll’s head as a little girl in the photo album, then with a dead bird in a box in another, behind her two old parents, with post-mortem photos of them; always suggesting death and anxiety. A young man, probably her lover, appears with his face cut from the photos, except in two or three of them. Then it grows: 2, 3, 19, even a photo with a group of 41 (yes, I did count them) men and women with their faces cut: people cut off her life.

The movie may be entertaining, boring, wicked depending on the viewer’s interests, and education I must say. I’m not much of a fan of the recently produced movies and/or animations, but I was impressed by the representation of the characters and events along with the stories. I would watch it again even just to hear the disembodied voice of the female narrator accompanied by the many images’ alterations.

3 stars for Fear(s) of the Dark (2007)


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