**I’m currently in a work deadline rush due on Halloween. The horror of it all! Sorry for skipping on the posts. The intention was there to write. I just couldn’t find a moment. So here is yesterday’s post and if by any luck things go well today at work *fingers crossed* I will have two posts for tomorrow, one review and one special Halloween post that I always do every year for wrap-up. **
With all that out of the way, I am yet again changing directions on the horror marathon and chose quite the rare appearance in Taiwanesw series which is set with a horror background with something of a And Then There Were None vibe called Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark.
Lets check it out!
Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark
Cast: Man-shu Jian, Bryan Shu-Hao Chang, Allen Chen, Blue Lan, Yen Tsao, Chun-Haw Hsu, Ke-Fang Sun, Sheng-Ping Chu, Tammy Darshana Lai, Shang-Ho Huang, Di-Yang Huang
While vacationing at a mountain cabin, a group of longtime friends uncover an old scandal that could have deadly consequences.-IMDB
Where to even start with this one? Lets just get this fact out of the way in case anyone here is a Taiwan movie/TV series connoisseurs: I don’t know watch as many of Taiwanese productions as I’d like and if you have any of these Taiwanese horror/thriller genre movies or TV series, please go ahead and recommend them to me. With that said, Close Your Eyes (as I will call the series from now on) is pretty refreshing to see. Just like TW series won’t work for everyone, the same applies here. There are some odd choices they make here and to me are missteps however, they have a whole different that they overall nail and for the most part, it actually feels more like a thriller with horror elements which isn’t a bad thing because that is one of my favorite movie genres/subgenres (not sure which its considered). Thrillers are hard to get down good especially with trying to instill ineasiness in its audience and lets just say, not everyone can be Pretty Little Liars. I draw this comparison because when the show started it, these young actresses were quite fresh faces just as the cast in Close Your Eyes are. The story does take the stance of backflashing to the last time they were camping at this cabin before the group had a fallout. Part of it is looking at what broke them apart and also what keeps them together as friends in both the past and present and gives it something of a parallel.
Whats works here:
- The atmosphere: Close Your Eyes is set in the rather cliche stranded in a country cabin and the storm had blocked the road and knocked out the only cell/telephone line so no communication outside and can’t go out either as they are also located on a mountain. However, the proper use of this and its sounds and knowing when to just let silence and subtlety take its place is done well enough here to get its audience a little tense. The lighting and such are also done pretty well here to give it some creepy vibes here and there. Its a little cliche at times but it still works alright. However, for hardcore horror fans, this one might still be lackluster.
- Opening & Ending Theme: It sounds really stupid to talk about the themes but the way they play with the sounds actually makes the subtle soundtrack as the ending theme so effectively creepy! The opening does a really cool creepy sequence which shows the tone of the show and where its headed.
- Suspense: I have to be on record to be a little hesitant on using this as it works for the most part. A lot of the reveals and twists work relatively well however, there are some parts where it hints a little too much to lose its suspense. However, it does well to keep the audience suspicious.
What doesn’t work so much:
- Acting: There really is only one thing that took me out from the show a lot of times and that was the acting. Some of the actors here and the expressions they made were really hilarious and overexaggerated. It felt like they were trying to portray something but the plot never gave their character the plot that justified it. I’ve explained before that unlike American television, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Chinese/Korean/Japanese series are all done in self-contained series so when a season is done then the story is wrapped up. If there were to be a sequel, then they’ll take another story arc. However, this one, there are a lot of characters and some of the characters don’t seem to get the depth they deserve, making them mean less and in a show like this, you need to be able to cheer on the characters and want them to survive. However, some of these ones here are a little lacklusters. One of the characters that show up later on are actually the worst. I actually laughed at some of his expressions really hard and that really took me out of the immersion as that was nearing the ending episode where the whole thing would reveal itself. I have to make the exception that the older actress here who plays Fang, the mountain cabin owner is a more seasoned actress and does pretty good.
- Voice-overs: The worst part of the show and some of the most head-scratching moments as to why they chose to do this is give voice-overs to the corpses. The corpses would have conversations and sometimes it would be little hints and clues however, it was these brief moments that made the show feel nonsensical. I didn’t see the purpose of it and would have rather that they didn’t. Think of The Autopsy of Jane Doe (although I won’t or I’ll get nightmares) but non-talking corpses wins the creepy factor any day.
Close Your Eyes is not too bad. It had its good and bad elements. Like I said before, its more of a thriller more than anything. It tries to get in a few twists and for the most part, succeeds even in its cliched moments. You can see the effort was made to get the atmosphere and the tone down while trying to highlight the significant relationships here. However, it does need a little work to piece the clues a little better although it did surprise me a few times, so I’m pretty pleased with that also and gave me a few creeps. If you like a quick Taiwanese series and explore what could hopefully be a first step into some more horror Taiwanese series, this is pretty decent. I was expecting it to be much worse. The surprise has to do with why I think its alright and probably worth a watch if you are into some suspense and mystery along with some light creepy setting.