This animated collection of short films is a visual treat and some great story telling and while it isn’t necessarily that scary of a film, it is a fine compilation of some interesting and creepy tales.
The film is a compilation of six works by the some of the best animators working today, Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, and Richard McGuire, and each one takes an interesting look at creepy stories and fears that effect people. Two of the stories serve as more of an interlude in-between the other four more full stories, with each story being fairly different from another. All in black in white, the first bit we get a piece of is one of the interludes which involves a 18th century dressed man leading a group of four angry and snarling wolves/dogs that he may or may not be deliberate letting loose on to people. The next is the second interlude story which simply a voice over explain the things this woman is scared by in the world over a dance of shapes and animated wander all over the screen. The first full story we get is about a boy who while out adventuring and collecting insects, comes across a strange creature which he loses in his room, and might have re-entered his life years later, when he is a lonely, bookish, loser of sorts, just when things begin to look up for him. The second full story follows a young Japanese girl who has just moved into town and after learning of a Samurai ghost story that took place behind her house her nightmares are the key to solving a gruesome incident. Next we have the story of a man who lives in this town where people are turning up grizzly murdered and his suspicions turn towards a friend that seems to know a bit too much about this supposed monster. Lastly, the film closes on the story of a man wandering in the snow who breaks into a seemingly empty house to get out of the cold, only to be haunted by his dreams and maybe more once inside.
All the films look fantastic, each dipping into different styles of animation and storytelling. The wolf/dog segments are the crudest animation in the film, but it suits the story which is just senselessly violent and savage without meaning. A wild-eyed and psychotic protagonist in the dog handler, he operates with no explained meaning or desire, it is unsettling and we are left with little answers. The voice over to changing shapes and images is equally non-explained as the previous mentioned short, but everything is abstract in that we are left to interpret the images and fears of the narrator as both words and images come together on the screen. The story about the loser college kid is the most bizarre, yet oddly normal, story of the bunch. It is pretty much a straight forward telling of ones life and his experiences with the new girl in his life that takes a sci-fi twist by the end. The fear comes from the pitfalls of a bad relationship though, not with the monsters that lurk in the dark. The story of the Asian girl is quite bizarre as with the filmmakers blending dream with reality, fueled by the mind of a teased child that lets her imagination run wild. The story of the monster threatening the town is the most straightforward, and the weak link in the stories, but I still found it enjoyable and engaging and was a nice change of pace at being with a more traditional story. The last short is the best in both animation and storytelling as the look is just beautiful, only animating what little light in the house shines on, the shots with the candles and roaming through the house are just beautiful to look at while also slowly creating an eerie tale as the plot thickens.
In the end Fear(s) of the Dark is a great showing of animation and creepy stories. While nothing in the film is truly scary, it does unsettle you from time to time, and the last story is definitely tenser then many films passed as horror nowadays are. Seek this one out on video in the future if you are a fan of animation or classic ghost stories, because that is the best way to view this compilation, a series of creepy tales you might have overheard sitting around a campfire.