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  Fear(s) of the Dark Turn Out The Light
Year: 2007
Director: Various
Stars: Nicole Garcia, Guillaume Depardieu, Aure Atika, Louisa Pili, Christian Hecq, François Creton, Arthur H., Florence Maury
Genre: Horror, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A man holding four large dogs which are straining at their leads walks through the countryside, gritting his teeth but enjoying the manner in which the fearsome beasts bark and snarl at every living thing they encounter, from a bird in the sky to a rabbit in the field. Then they see a young boy standing, transfixed by them in fear - until, that is, one of the leashes slips from his grasp and a hound breaks free, racing after the boy who does his best to escape, but surely faces certain death. So begins a sequence of tales in a similarly macabre vein...

These six stories - although some are more narrative-based than others - were directed by six international artists brought togther to exhibit their individual talents in animated form. Only two of them had been involved in directing their work before, and then only once before, so there was some interest among those who had followed their projects to see how they would translate their ideas to the big screen. The biggest name here would probably be Charles Burns, and the producers are wise to place his contribution near the beginning.

This is because Burns' story is by far the best, a neat encapsulation of his typical themes made all the more interesting by being animated: his style of drawing makes a pleasing transition to the form, perhaps too obviously computer animated and therefore a little too smooth, but his trademark clear line drawing is satisfying here, as is the plot he offers up. In it, a shy, bookish student relates how he was approached by a pretty girl to borrow his lecture notes, and a romance developed which ended in sinister fashion when she was apparently bitten by some kind of insect which he had collected a while before, but had escaped.

With Burns keenly delineating his fears over sex and relationships going wrong as ever speaking to the subconscious in this segment, it's worth contrasting against the others, which are far more murky and probably speak to few people other than their creators. A running thread between each part sees a narrator (Nicole Garcia) outline her personal fears over a succession of abstract imagery - this film is pretty much entirely black and white, incidentally - which is more concerned with her self-obsession than any actual worries for society, or even of the dark. You may feel your shoulders sag when she starts up again.

Better are the vignettes, but Burns' aside they have a half-formed feel to their plotting, offering a sense of a nightmare in their dream logic, but leaving you at a loss too often to explain what the point of them were. One of the longest has Marie Caillou presenting a situation where a little Japanese girl keeps awakening from terrifying occurences, both real life (getting bullied as the new girl in school) and fantastical (forest spirits terrorising her and chasing her through the woods). It all appears to be leading somewhere... but doesn't, it simply ends without resolution as if the money ran out. Elsewhere, the man with the dogs sets them on other hapless victims before his bloody comeuppance, an unlilkely beast roams the countryside, and a man gets stuck in his isolated house. Fear(s) of the Dark isn't boring, more puzzling, leaving you feeling as if you're missing something - or the creators are. Music by Laurent Perez.

Aka: Peur(s) du noir.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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