Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Dark Stories

Dark Stories

The only weak link of this French anthology horror film is its generic title – too many books and films are called Dark Something, and they tend to meld together in the mind.  An evil doll (voiced by Scott Thrun) invades the home of Christine (Kristanna Loken), intent on killing her and her child … but while she’s tied up in the basement, she plays Scheherezade for the tittering little creep, and spins dark stories, mostly with a black comic twist but also some genuine nastiness.

The episodes offer a hungry, haunted painting … ghosts and perhaps a psycho in the park … an avenging zombie (Sebastien Lalanne) on a matter-of-fact mission of mercy to rescue two sisters from gangsters … a woman (Tiphaine Daviot) haunted by djinns … and a rustic nobody (Dominique Pinon) who claims to have been visited by a flying saucer and anointed the new messiah is interviewed by an exploitative journo (Michelle Ryan).  Pleasingly, the frame story is fleshed out more than usual and pays off nicely.

The individual episodes offer variations on familiar themes, but mostly with EC Comics-like twists – and as they unfold, the character of the ambiguous narrator, who is calm in the face of supernatural threat, becomes more interesting.  Overall, it has a gloomy, night-time look – with imaginative manifestations (nicely designed, if tweaked by CG).  Originally a TV series, it makes for a seamless feature – stronger overall than recent US efforts along the same lines (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Mortuart Collection).  Co-directed by François Descraques and Guillaume Lubrano.


Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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