DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

What’s in the Darkness

Director - Yichun Wang - 2016

"Greasy movie"
Lewdness and misogyny lurking in the shadows of China: first-time director weaves grim murder mystery with girl's coming-of-age to good results - from the BFI London Film Festival ending on Sunday

“Why couldn’t he just rape her?”, asks a passerby as she watches the police photograph the body of the latest rape and murder victim in a small Chinese town in the countryside. The officers taking pictures to seem extract pleasure from doing it, while other males seem to get satisfaction from describing the murder in graphic detail to their friends. There is a toxic mixture of sexism, sadism and voyerism that permeates the community, leaving women feeling vulnerable and exposed.

What’s in the Darkness opens with police detective Qu Zhicheng (Guo Xiao) trying to impress his teenage daughter Jing (Su Xiaotong, pictured above) in a street market. He describes the blood splats, the musculature and texture of a butchered pig to the perplexed and confused girl, and the butcher is not pleased with the man’s lecturing either. This sequence comes to both symbolise and summarise the film, which constantly contrasts female naivety and innocence against male patronising and obsession with the body. It’s just that the pig is soon replaced by a series of mutilated women.

Men are often seen swooning and slobbering at females throughout the movie. It seems that the police and the locals perpetuate the pleasure of the rapist and murders through proxies of the violence, such as pictures and gossiping. Meanwhile, young male teenagers seem to get strange satisfaction from watching girl cry in the cinema. China does feel like a safe haven for females. It’s unsurprising that Qu demands his teenage daughter to keep her legs shut – he knows what men are like.

The most interesting element of What’s in the Darkness is that the point-of-view is mostly from the girl’s perspective, rendering the gruesome developments somehow more gentle and subtle. The cheesy pop music provides a nice backdrop the coming-of-age story. The imagery is little more somber, and there are beautiful takes through heavy rain, dirty windows and even a mosquito net in bed. However, the pace of the story is sometimes a little monotonous – a common teething issue for a budding helmer. Keep an eye on Wang: the director could become a pleasant surprise and welcome addition to the Chinese thriller genre in the future.

What’s in the Darkness premiered in the Berlinale earlier this year and it is now part of the BFI London Film Festival, which ends on Sunday. Click here for more information about the event.

And don’t forget to watch the film trailer right here:

.



"Greasy movie"

By Victor Fraga - 12-10-2016

By Victor Fraga - 12-10-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years o...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Holidaying in Cambodia with Isaac (Ross McCall), Ben [Read More...]

Read More

Locarno 2021 preview: a return to the magic of in-person discovery

 

Redmond Bacon - 03-08-2021

After a year break, the return of an in-person Locarno has this critic feeling both excited and a tad trepidatious. Read our preview now! [Read More...]

Our dirty questions to Edgar Wright

 

Ian Schultz - 31-07-2021

The British director of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and BABY DRIVER talks about his first ever documentary THE SPARKS BROTHERS, about the extensive legacy of the American music duo Sparks - in exclusive interview [Read More...]

The Suicide Squad

James Gunn
2021

Eoghan Lyng - 30-07-2021

This poor rehash of the eponymous 2016 movie is one of the most misguided superhero films of the past 10 years, dogged by cliches and resentment - in cinemas Friday, July 30th [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *