Sundance - 'Fear(s) of the Dark' (2008)


Fear(s) of the Dark is (get this) a black and white animated horror anthology from France.

Still with me? Good, because if you're one of the more adventuresome genre fans, then you're obviously open to all sorts of non-traditional, strange, and downright weird movies. So while some of the segments found in Fear(s) of the Dark are typically artsy, arcane, and suitably pretentious, for the most part they're also stunningly animated, impressively disconcerting, and entirely creepy to behold.

Aside from one recurring segment in which a female voice expresses her fears while a bunch of strange patterns float across the screen, most of the stories are pretty straightforward affairs. One of the early (also recurring) segments involves a Victorian-era soldier as he unleashes some hellacious hounds on a bunch of poor townspeople. (It's a pretty simple story, but it's also strangely disturbing.)

One of the better segments: A young boy who likes to collect insects grows into a young man with something creepy living inside his bed. And when the guy scores his first girlfriend, the longtime visitor makes an icky return. The best section of the film (by a long shot) is the final piece, a stripped-down story about a man wandering through a dark, deserted, and very spooky house. It might sound pretty boring, but it's got some of the most creative and beautiful black and white animation I've ever seen. (I watched Fear(s) of the Dark on a festival screener, and I gladly scanned back to watch this final segment a second time.)

Perhaps a bit too "inaccessible" or just plain ol' "artsy-fartsy" for (some of) the younger -- or more impatient -- horror fans, Fear(s) of the Dark should, however, prove to be a real treat among those who savor genre imports of any kind. If a few of the sections don't exactly float your boat, it's not like you'll be suffering for long: All told, the entire collection runs about 82 minutes ... and (like I said) it closes with one dazzlingly (and darkly) amazing piece of animation. And yes, it's all pretty darn creepy. Beautifully so.