Film Noir is, unfortunately, a genre that has fallen into obscurity. Like the musical or hand drawn animated movie it has become something that only appears when a filmmaker wants to say, “Hey look, I’m doing Film Noir. Cool, huh?”
Now, occasionally a director can take it and do something great with it, like Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller did with “Sin City” or the Coen Bros. with “The Man Who Wasn’t There”. Unfortunately, “Dark Exposures” from James and Robert Dastoli acts as more of a fan film than anything else, and as such is impressive at times but ultimately ends up feeling pretty shallow.
The brothers do a great job of incorporating Film Noir elements into their short. They’ve got the high contrast black and white, the down on his luck detective, the femme fatale, the Venetian blinds, and the big shadows. What they forgot to add was a character or story worth remembering. Dominick Vicchiullo’s private dick and Maria Paris’ dame are the definition of generic and the story, which does not have enough time to develop, is standard Noir fare which is forgotten moments after the film ends.
However, as an homage to a genre that the filmmakers obviously love, “Dark Exposures” is quite successful. If you turn off the sound and squint your eyes enough so that you don’t see the distracting digital film grain, you can even convince yourself that you are watching the genuine article.