TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! According to writer-director Sid Zanforlin, Black Paris is principally about “the decisions we make.” This phrase acts as a master key that unlocks this horror story, allowing it to reveal a tantalizingly ambiguous aspect wherein much of the story’s emotion is intuited rather than explained. However, the film itself does not explicitly offer such a key, and without it — though provocatively presented — the film takes on too heavy of an abstract dimension.
The film takes place in an indeterminate time when Earth is engaged in a war with an unknown adversary. The humans are losing. That’s all the information given as a primer for the four-minute-long short. And yet, despite the potential for confusion of artistic intentions, there is a lot of quality across the truncated runtime.
“…Earth is engaged in a war with an unknown adversary. The humans are losing.”
Filmed entirely on The Volume (the technology used to shoot several modern shows, such as The Mandalorian), Black Paris presents its world through a contrast in aesthetics. It utilizes both black and white and vivid colour to explore themes such as decision, memory, and potentiality. These visuals are married with an intriguing narrative to create an unspoken but keenly felt logic.
But, because of the somewhat inscrutable nature of the plot, Black Paris ultimately comes across as a moment in time. Certainly, Zanforlin has extracted much value from his themes in so short of a time. But without the master key, these very themes feel unmoored to the point of being lost.
Black Paris screened at the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
"…visuals are married with an intriguing narrative..."