Fear(s) of the Dark

02/10/2021 06:40

Film: Fear(s) of the Dark (Peur(s) du noir)

Year: 2007

Director: Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Calliou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti and Richard McGuire

Writer: Blutch, Charles Burns, Pierre Di Sciullo, Jerry Kramski, Richard McGuire, Michale Pirus and Romain Slocombe

Starring: Aure Atika, Guillaume Depardieu and Nicole Garcia



This is an interesting film that I had never heard of before. It was being shown by the Fright Club Podcast at the Gateway Film Center. Since I love to support these events and the theater, I decided to check this out. Aside from that, I came in pretty blind to this movie. The synopsis is several scary black-and-white animated segments in different styles appeal to our fear(s) of the dark.

Since this is an anthology film, I’m going to break down each segment and give my thoughts that way to keep things in line. The first that we get is broken up into sections and given to us. This is a more traditional looking drawing that is animated. This involves an old man with angry dogs. He continues to unleash these on victims until he only has one left. It is only then does he get his just punishment.

This really sets the tone for what the movie is going to be for me. The artwork was amazing and it looks be done with pencil. It looks pretty life like, especially where we see this old man holding the leashes as these dogs tug at him. He is dressed as colonial United States or Victorian England. This man is really a horrible person. He lets loose his animals on a boy with black eyes, which was creepy, a construction worker and a woman who is dancing. These get more and more brutal as they go.

The next tale is that of Eric (voiced by Guillaume Depardieu). He is an older man who wakes in pain and tells us his story. He is an intelligent child with a thirst for science and knowledge. He finds in a weird hive this insect that looks like a Praying Mantis. He puts it in a jar and brings it home. It escapes, with him never seeing it again. His bed seems to make the noise this insect did and it haunts him. When he goes off to college he meets Laura (voiced by Aure Atika), a beautiful young woman who shows interest in him. The two of them hit it off and she comes back to his place after a date. The following morning he notices a cut on her forearm that is deep. There are some interesting changes that come over her and lead them down a dark path.

This I believe has drawings done with computers. That is not to diminish them, as they look really good. I love the care they took into making this insect. A recap of this story states they’re human like. My immediate thought was Praying Mantis which does fit that bill. I like where this story takes us and is one of my favorites here for sure. In part of that is the tragic character that Eric is. He isolated himself due to his interests and now he’s lonely. When someone like Laura comes along, he’s desperate to make it work. He also has a weird connection where he doesn’t want to lose the creature he befriended briefly as a boy. It seems due to his loneliness, he has issues with losing those that he opens up to. This really takes us down a path of sadness and depression.

The tale after starts at a murder the police are investigating. This is a story that I need to rewatch as for whatever reason, it isn’t sticking with me. It follows a little girl who moves to rural Japan and is bullied by kids at school. Her doctor (voiced by Christian Hecq), wants her to face this nightmare that she is having which involves of a samurai buried in the cemetery near her house. In this nightmare, she becomes possessed by it and it causes to murder her bullies as well as her parents. The question though is, are these nightmares or reality?

From what I remember, this short is computer drawings much like the previous. I did like the Asian influence and this is also the only one with color in it. This one just really had issues keeping my attention like the ones before it for whatever reason. Once I get a chance though, I will give it a go as I read up on all of these before writing this to just make sure I touched on them all. The ideas of facing our demons and what really could be happening here are really things that tick my boxes.

Another one that really had issues holding my attention is one that follows a man who recounts his time living in France as a child. He lived in a small village where a creature was terrorizing the countryside at night. It was here that he befriended a strange orphan who claims a ‘beast from the sky’ mauled our narrator’s uncle. A great hunter is called in to kill whatever is doing this and the truth is much darker than we realize.

To re-iterate, the focal point of all these is the art used to bring them to life. Some look amazing in the realism, while others do some cool things with the images and taking advantage of the black and white aesthetic. This one is traditional animation and that makes sense. The hunter is disproportionate to real life and reminded me of something you’d see in older cartoons like Popeye the Sailor Man, Looney Tunes or even Disney. That looked cool, but I got a bit lost in the narrative they are giving. I think I figured it out, but it took me reading up a bit.

The last full story is one of my favorites. We have a man who gets lost in a blizzard. He breaks into a house to seek refuge. This house has a dark past though that he discovers through a photo album. This causes him to have a nightmare and ultimately, trapping him in a closet. Is he alone and can he escape?

What struck me about the animation and drawing here is that it is using white to show us images. They’re taking a black frame and making either the character we’re following white or what is happening in white. It is not giving us everything, but just showing us what we need to while using the soundtrack as well. The guy is exhausted and drinking, so it makes him an unreliable narrator to what is happening to him. For whatever reason, this one pulled me in and I liked how they presented it.

The last aspect is a wraparound that drops in between these stories. It is just a woman, who seems to be telling us or something there about their fears, anxieties and what causes them sadness. Geometric shapes are presented as they move and change as they fit to what is being told to us. What makes this creepy is what you can connect with this character of things being said or how dark her thoughts go.

This is really an interesting animated anthology film. I can’t really delve too much more as this movie is really presenting some different looks at fear with different types of drawings and animations. We have the fears of what we might be doing, the fear of nightmares, loneliness, isolation and depression to just name some of the different things tackled in these stories. I think it is beautifully done and the soundtrack really fits to what they’re going for here. It does have its limitations in what they’re doing since it is a series of shorts that don’t fully flesh out some ideas. I did enjoy this overall and would rate it as a final product as above average, bordering on good.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10