Fear(s) of the Dark

Fear(s) of the Dark
Everyone has one thing that sends shivers of terror down their spine. It lurks in your nightmares and prowls through the dark corners of your mind. Whether it's creepy crawlies, monsters, ghosts or your own company that turns you into a jittery wreck, Fear(s) of the Dark has a tale that is sure to scare even the coolest of stoics. Combining the formidable skills of six of the world's best animators, and shot in macabre black and white, Fear(s) of the Dark contains six short stories exploring fear. From an antisocial science nerd whose love interest begins to take on strange characteristics to an evil wolf master setting his dogs on innocent victims, each story is intensely haunting, as well as stylistically unique. Marie Caillo's chilling tale of a girl possessed by nightmares of a dead samurai has a playful, cartoonish approach that contrasts nicely with the grim subject matter; Blutch's romantic style lends a dusky and archaic feel, while the story is reminiscent of The Hounds of the Baskervilles; and in his haunted house story Richard McGuire demonstrates how the simple use of black can inspire fear when we can't see what lurks around the corner. While each story is distinctive in its rendering they are held together by the idea that it's not the dark nor the wild beasts that prowl there but what humans are capable of that we fear most. And that is a chilling idea indeed. The special features are certainly a bonus, with a lengthy featurette that takes you around a display of the artists' processes, from the storyboarding stage to the production. As if that wasn't detailed enough, "From the Drawing to the Film, a Diaphorama of Working Documents" goes into further depth, displaying the drawings and how they were brought to life using a variation of techniques. It is fun to watch Blutch filming his movements with the finished animation in the corner, and to see the actors in the sound booth bringing the characters to life. The MySpace French contest challenged people to submit their own animated horrors, the best of which are shown here, and include some weird and spectacular animation. One highlight of which is a pastel man who washes his own face off in the sink. Rounding out a great array of features is an extended version of Pierre Disciullo's segment, where a woman bemoans all of her every day fears, which lends a comic touch to the film. (IFC)