Blind Sun opens in a plausible near-future Greece. Bleached by an unrelenting sun, water is sparse, especially drinking water which is slowly being privatised, and the heat and wind are fierce. Ashraf (Bakri) is on his way to a new job but is delayed by a suspicious, unfriendly cop. The cop drives off with Ashraf’s residency papers before he can be stopped. Ashraf heads on to take up his gig house sitting for a French family whilst they’re away.
The family were dealt a fine for filling up their pool and took some local resentment as a result, and Ashraf initially doesn’t follow orders from his new boss, choosing not to drain the pool but to instead enjoy it himself. Meanwhile he seeks to discover what happened to his papers and retrieve them. Trapped in a nightmare where the only people he meets are generally wilting in the heat, singularly unhelpful or view him as an immigrant, Ashraf starts to suspect that the villa, and the water supply, is being sabotaged. Of course there’s just as much likelihood that Ashraf himself is losing the plot and is responsible for the damage around the home.
In many ways Blind Sun harks back to the psychological thrillers and horrors of the 1960s and 70s. In its almost total focus on mainly one character and their slowly dissolving relationship with any reality other than their own, there are elements of films like Repulsion. It’s given a gender flip so that instead of a woman-gone-mad it’s the tormented Ashraf that the camera lingers over. There’s some obvious surface comparisons that could be made with the sun-blasted Who Can Kill a Child? With numerous other influences and a heavy developing dystopia vibe, it’s something you could pick over for some time.
It’s beautifully shot and there’s a good use of oppressive sound effects and music that amplify the alien-ness of Ashraf’s experience as well as the increasing isolation. Writer and director Joyce A. Nashawati isn’t constructing a horror film here but rather a bleak character study of one man’s unravelling stability and mounting paranoia that serves just as substantially as allegory. For much of the running time Ashraf is the only one on screen and Bakri proves a compelling anchor.
And it’s good that Blind Sun has these positives, with plot being minimal, as well as action. There’s an arthouse influence that’s just as heavy as any horror or thriller elements and it’s this that threatens to undermine the sense of slow build panic that Ashraf experiences. Fortunately, that cinematography, control of pace and central performance pulls it back from too much tedious noodling. It’s a promising feature debut from Nashawati.
BLIND SUN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JOYCE A. NASHAWATI / STARRING: ZIAD BAKRI, MIMI DENISSI, LOUIS-DO DE LENCQUESAING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW