Monday, September 18, 2023

Afraid of the Dark - 1991 - a French-British slow burn


I know Halloween is a month away, but it's not too early to start getting into the mood. If you are tired of jump scares and generic CGI, give this understated French-British slow burn a chance. This film could have been directed by David Lynch. You will notice the same parallel narratives as in "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Drive", where underdogs envision themselves as heroes. Wishful thinking versus reality.  "Afraid of the Dark" is a tale of a young boy on the cusp of puberty - and also on the verge of impending blindness. As his ocular nerve degenerates, imagination starts to fill the gaps, and eventually fantasy pushes out reality. 11 year-old Lucas must make friends with his demons - the ones that lurk in the corners of his fading eyes. 

I have always been fascinated and mystified by the eye as a structure. To me it's a whole separate universe, a portal into another dimension. It's not surprising that writers and directors would base their narratives around the eye. 

Most viewers will feel a great deal of empathy for the young protagonist, who is introverted, observant, sensitive and older than his years. As many Lynchian characters, he envisions a world where is in a position of power, where he has the ability to protect and influence others. 

If you have been desensitized with the loud, fast-paced, sexually charged horror films of the last two decades, it may take you a while to adjust to the slow pace of this movie. 

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