Olivier Smolders is a more or less unknown director from the Democratic Republic Of Congo that, to this date, has only one full-length feature film under his belt: the marvelous, Kafkaesque Nuit Noire (meaning “black night” in English). I read about this particular film some years ago in what I presume to be an ad in Rue Morgue (I can’t quite remember) although it wasn’t until very recently that I actually came across a copy to add to the collection. I am quite a fan of Franz Kafka and have been ever since I read The Metamorphosis when I was a lad although I’ve noticed that, despite his popularity in existential circles and elsewhere, it seems his influence on film has been minimal; or, perhaps it is better to say that there are only a few films I have seen that actually possess an atmosphere and aura that would be considered wholly and undeniably Kafka. Nuit Noire, along with the likes of Soderbergh’s grossly underrated Kafka (ironic, huh?) and Polanski’s The Tenant, is one such rarity to have Kafka written all over it.
The horror elements in Nuit Noire are light at best but they’re there enough for me to justify writing about this little gem here at Horrific Healing. While one cannot expect gallons of blood or aggression, there is an abundance of both subtle perversity and darkness (figurative and literal) throughout the film’s duration to appeal to most seasoned horror fans out there. The dialogue throughout the picture is minimal, the tapestry of its cleverly simple yet highly metaphorical narrative instead being woven by all kinds of arresting imagery and wonderful cinematography that definitely wouldn’t be out of place amidst a David Lynch feature. I mentioned that the narrative itself was highly metaphorical although it is also worth mentioning that the imagery is highly open to interpretation as well which, depending upon the kind of film-viewer you are, could be a positive or negative thing. Nuit Noire, very much like the aforementioned David Lynch’s Eraserhead, is highly open to interpretation and meaning. I personally adore this kind of filmmaking since it allows me to integrate my own interpretations and thoughts into the experience of the film without being necessarily told what I am watching, why I am watching it and how I am to logically go about the film’s content. Nuit Noire captures this particular spirit of filmmaking perfectly.
All-in-all I was quite impressed by Nuit Noire and wish that I could get my hands on some of Olivier Smolders’ shorts because he seems to have a lot of promise as a filmmaker. If you’re a fan of Kafka, Lynch, the arty side of horror or just art films in general, I can only recommend the immersive Nuit Noire to you in highest regards because it’s definitely worth seeking out despite its obscurity. A surprising and wonderful gem!