When I found out that Celluloid Dreams (Inside) was behind the Sundance animated horror film, FEAR[S] OF THE DAR, I was standing in line in sheer excitement. Over the years I’ve learned to trust in many studios and their films, which is what I was hoping for here, but unfortunately DARK is a jumbled mess of ideas that’s better suited for night of drinking and talking than a focused experience.
The film is an ambitious project uniting six graphic artists and cartoonists who have breathed life into their nightmares, bleeding away color only to retain the starkness of light and the pitch black of shadows. Their intertwined stories make up an unprecedented epic where phobias, disgust and nightmares come to life and reveal Fear at its most naked and intense.
Literally the first act of the film is extraordinary on both a story level and a technical level. Early on in the film, with the concept still fresh and invigorating, we see some outstanding animation and are taken through one hell of a horrific story. The only story that I really dug was one about a boy who meets the girl of his dreams in college. One night while sleeping over she is bitten by a d bug and becomes a living insect/mantis using the boy as a host to lay eggs in. I cheered in excitement and figured I was about to be taken on a TWILIGHT ZONE/TALES FROM THE CRYPT journey, only that was the end of it. Maybe the fact that the film was fragmented by six directors is where it fails, and maybe if I had a DVD with six shorts films on it I might have enjoyed them one at a time on different nights, but watching them in sequence was tiring and extremely boring.
FEAR[S] is more for that artist looking to be inspired by some astounding creations. I would love to talk to the filmmakers and find out exactly how they achieved what they did. One of the shorts looked like it was three-dimensional and as the camera panned or zoomed in we could see more surfaces on objects – it was INCREDIBLE. Also working in all black and white is tricky, especially working in night and day with lights flipping on and off. The artwork constantly needed to reflect the atmosphere and it was beautiful watching the black and whites switch from positive to negative.
Even though the film deserves props and is quite an achievement, it fails on the most important level – entertainment value. I understand most artists create the work for themselves, but when you’re making a movie you have to have the audience in mind.