Shot in black and white film, The Black Gloves (2017) gives light to the low-budget indie genre. Putting great focus into making smart, emotionally effective directorial choices to bypass any need for special effects, The Black Gloves shows that great film can be done with very little means. It has a familiar, isolated setting found in classic gothic horror films and its dedication to a mid-century, European backdrop made for a truly immersive experience. From the costume design, to the acting, to the narrative, The Black Gloves is a haunting, psychological horror that is a mix of old Hollywood aesthetic and modern arthouse horror that was a surprisingly chilling watch.

Dr. Finn Galloway (Jamie Scott Gordon) is a psychologist whose young patient suffers from visions of a shadowy, bird-like figure — the Owlman. After losing her in a tragic accident, his investigation leads him to a patient who is possibly suffering from the same nightmarish visions, a ballerina named Elisa (Alexandra Nicole Hulme). Dr. Galloway sets out to counsel Elisa, but her overbearing instructor Lorena (Macarena Gómez) keeps a disturbingly close eye over the fragile woman. In his pursuit to save Elisa, Finn becomes wrapped up in a psychologically unsettling state as paranoia and deadly twists and turns bring him face to face with the terrifying Owlman.

I found The Black Gloves to be very contrived, in a way that an auteur styles a movie. Its pacing and look just seemed very distinct — very old Hollywood but done in a new way, a fresh take on noir or gum-shoe type movies. Shooting the movie in black and white was the perfect decision for this movie as director Lawrie Brewster was able to put great emphasis on the way that light was used. Creating large shadows, which were like monsters themselves, instilled a sense of fear, and Brewster also used glaring lights to disorient the audience. Great detail was paid attention to the sound mixing — although it was mostly just stock soundbites such as laughter, wind blowing, music boxes, and the scary like, they were, however, put to good use, and so the design did not seem lazy or amateur. I noticed a lot of use of the askew, Dutch angle view made famous during German expressionism of the early 1900s, the use of such an old style of framing also lent itself to the old-style vibes The Black Gloves was giving off.

Though the movie looked great and the acting was on par with what the story called for, somehow The Black Gloves still felt like a bit of a slow-burner. Not even the sometimes grotesque imagery used to add the elements of horror was very exciting — juxtaposed with the film’s idyllic setting it was all a bit Lynchian but still didn’t give the movie the energy it was sorely missing. The last throes of the movie did pick up the pace, where the psychological aspects of the film finally crossed paths with the horror, particularly in one scene which had possibly the scariest depiction of the black swan I have ever seen, it was just about the only jump scare in the movie and it was freaky. This iconic character from Swan Lake was used to create horror, using the unnatural movements of ballet to create an interesting kind of body horror. Also, using this character to build a bridge between the victim and the monster of the movie, The Owlman, brought the story full circle.

Though the movie was a bit low energy, it was high-class acting, artistic direction, and narrative writing. A sort of period horror, like The Woman In Black (2012), or The Others (2001), The Black Gloves is a no-frills, no jump scares (except for one), and just downright horrific and unnerving film visually and aurally. Not to mention how inspired and beautiful the use of women to create tragically horrifying characters was, especially Macarena Gomez, whose sharp-tongued character chewed up every scene. The movie was so low budget, though, that it did not even bother to get a lifelike prop babydoll for one character, and also, the monster was borderline silly-looking even though owls are naturally eerie, but even so, the film leaning into an old-time horror style worked to overcome these budget failings, making The Black Gloves one interesting, unique experience.

MOVIE RATING — 6.5 out of 10 ☠️

 

The Black Gloves
RATING: UR
Runtime: 1hrs. 20 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: