Death has always been a difficult and frightening subject, but there are few cases in the history of cinema depicting the tragedy of losing a loved one in such a magnetic manner. Inspired by the dark atmosphere of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, by the magic realism of Guillermo del Toro’s films, or by some of the most poetic horror films of the last period (like The Babadook), ‘The Dark Room‘ is an implosive cinematic experience exploring the turbulent sensitivity of a young girl who is accessing a much subtler form of understanding the difficult truth that she faces. Trying to render in a complex sensory manner the imagistic and sound vertigo aggressing the distorted perception of a child for whom fiction has become an existential surrogate, director Morgane Segaert aims to create in her terrifyingly magnetic project a grim panorama of an event tragically decoded by a girl’s soul into a metaphoric key.
Like the famous character from Greek mythology whose prophecies were not believed by anyone, Cassandra is a girl who sees in the house where she lives a strange and frightening presence that is responsible for the mysterious and incurable illness of her own mother. Faced with the inner drama of the father’s absence and with the imminence of her mother’s death, Cassandra tries to stop the malignant influence of the invisible creature, but will she be able to cope with the whims of destiny, even if her perception of reality goes beyond that of those around her?
Even though the narrative thread of this short film may seem quite simplistic to some viewers, Morgane Segaert’s aesthetic stake focuses mainly on the sensory component of the entire experiment, defying the conventional epic exigencies of a classical dark fairy tale. Thus, this attractive incursion into the emotional depths of a girl excels through an almost impeccable homogeneity between the sick and faded chromaticity which often materializes in quasi-baroque pictorial frames and the slightly strident soundtrack operating on the principle of a mirror reflecting the tormented interiority of the protagonist. Beyond this balanced sensory interface, ‘The Dark Room’ impresses with a good dose of emotional tension, avoiding pathetic excesses, constituting an amazing metaphor about the power of fiction to shape our own perception, but also a beautiful emotional chemistry between three characters that synthesize three complementary hypostases of femininity trying to understand the unpredictable nature of their own lives.
For the magnetic atmosphere that privileges the fascinating materialization of a grim modern fairy tale, but also for the structural balance that provides a broad and poetic panorama of the turbulent sensibility of a child confronted with the tragic experience of her mother’s death, ‘The Dark Room’ was awarded with the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the July 2018 edition of TMFF.