Stars: Ziad Bakri, Mimi Denissi, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Yannis Stankoglou, Laurène Brun, Gwendoline Hamon, Yiorgos Gallos, Theodoros Kandiliotis, Andreas Marianos, Sarah Krebs | Written and Directed by Joyce A. Nashawati
In the sun-scorched Greece of the near future, immigrant Ashraf house-sits a fancy villa (plus cat) while its rich owners are away. After a testy greeting from his employers and a rough start with a border cop, the stage is almost certainly set for a showdown of some variety. Well, excessive heat always makes me extra grumpy too.
While there’s no sign of any immediate danger to Ashraf – nor any traditional horror or thriller movie cinematography or audio cues to suggest it might be on the way either – the atmosphere is there from the outset; oppressive, dusty and unforgiving, like a slightly pre-apocalyptic Greek Mad Max. The constant chirruping of desert wildlife is a fine stand in for a horror movie score, reminiscent of uncomfortable, too-hot holidays in which the heat is too overpowering to get anything done but drink and lounge by the pool.
This, Ashraf does his fair share of, but a holiday in the sun it ain’t; the national water shortage which plagues the country has his neighbours hostile and suspicious, and after losing his residence permit to a particularly unfriendly cop, Ashraf is trapped in a waking nightmare of bureaucracy, isolation and paranoia. This, combined with the incessant heat, is enough to drive a man mad. And, in Ashraf’s case, it just might.
Blind Sun is the striking debut of writer and director Joyce A. Nashawati, a filmmaker with everything and very little to say at the same time. Global warming and immigration tension inform what little story there is, the gaps filled in by Ashraf’s unravelling and a strong lead performance from Ziad Bakri. It looks gorgeous – making the most of the coastal Greek setting and the minimalist, futuristic house in which Ashraf finds himself – but it’s all without substance, a fever dream with no real content. Just as Ashraf is often surrounded by or submerged in water which he is unable to drink, so Blind Sun never quite quenches the thirst, meandering about as it does, with little direction.
In spite of its excellent visuals, powerful lead performance and undeniably bleak atmosphere, there’s simply not enough of substance to Blind Sun. Like the pounding Greek heat, it’s dry, intolerable and, frankly, exhausting.
Blind Sun comes to Shudder tomorrow, February 9th.