China | 2015 | 98 mins | Mandarin | Indian Premiere
In 1991, in a small Chinese town, the body of a raped teenage girl is found amongst the reeds in a lake. Despite a police investigation by the fathers of two female school students, Jing and Xue, a string of further such murders is committed. Meanwhile, during a Communist Youth League visit to a local old people’s home, an elderly man asks Jing to read out passages of erotic text and she begins to suspect he is connected to the rape. Fear spreads amongst the town’s students but the local conservative mentality prevents discussion of the crimes. Slowly, a different kind of unease unfurls—a strange new feeling between the adolescent boys and girls that has something to do with the sexually mature Xue, who has failed the same year at school several times over. What’s in the Darkness artfully combines the coming-of-age and serial-killer genres to ask how Jing might come to terms with her nascent sexuality in an oppressive world.
Born in 1977, Wang Yichun studied French before becoming a filmmaker. When asked what lies in the metaphorical darkness, Wang replies, “There are unrecognisable scents of flowers, the stirring desire of love, a cold-blooded killer, the selfish, the indifferent and the helpless cries of the weak. Not to forget there are simple but kind people who help guard and illuminate the path for you with a small glimmer of light.”