Where’s the light switch around here?
- Jian Man Shu as Hong Xiao Tong
- Bryan Chang as Lu Bi Cang
- Jake Hsu as Li Zi Shuo
- Tsao Yen as Zhou Ruo Qing
- Bean Sun as Liu Cheng Fang
- Allen Chen as Lan Yi Cong
- Zhu Sheng Ping as Huang Yu Xiu
- Blue Lan as Bai Xin Yi
- 7 episodes
- Original run: December 30, 2016 – February 17, 2017
Eight friends reunite at a mountain retreat 10 years after graduating high school to dig up a time capsule they buried together. One of them, however, never makes it and is instead found dead near the campsite. And soon, a second body is discovered while a landslide blocks their only path down the mountain. As they try to find the murderer amongst themselves, a decade-old scandal resurfaces and threatens to have deadly results for all of them.
Given my less-than-stellar experiences with Taiwanese dramas as of late, you’d think that I would steer clear of them for awhile. But of course, like any true drama watcher knows, these shows will just suck you right back in. With Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark, it was neither the cast (who?) nor the plotline (yawn) that enticed me to watch. Instead, it was the genre: horror. While Asian cinema is infamous for its horror cult classics, the success and appeal of those movies never quite crossed over into dramas. So, when one does come along that boldly declares itself as a “horror drama,” color me intrigued. But alas, I should have known better. Despite all the creepy music and dim lighting, Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark is absolutely, irrevocably not a horror drama or even remotely close to one.
I’m not entirely sure what the “Q Series” is, but it seems to be mini dramas that feature up-and-coming actors and actresses. Now, I’m all for finding the next It Boy/Girl, but they better be able to deliver on the acting goods. Unfortunately, those in Close Your Eyes couldn’t do it. With the minor exceptions of Jian Man Shu and Bryan Chang (the most experienced of ’em all), the other acting performances were so cringeworthy. While I don’t think more famous or veteran actors would have made the drama that much better, at least then it wouldn’t be so unbearable and embarrassing to watch. Maybe it’s a good thing that something like “Q Series” exists, where rookies can hone their acting skills before attempting to take on actual primetime dramas.
Bad acting aside, Close Your Eyes just wasn’t all that scary. I don’t know why they tried to promote this drama as a horror because there were no elements of it to be found. Even cheap scares, e.g. things poppin’ up out of nowhere, were nonexistent. The closest the drama probably got to the genre it was trying to imitate was the, “body in a suitcase,” scene. If anything, this was more your standard murder mystery than an innovative, frightening horror. But even as a murder mystery, Close Your Eyes was dumb and had a poorly written plotline. The motive before the murder(s) were predictable and juvenile. The ensuing cover-up, chase, and investigation were just as horribly planned. Not to mention every single character was awful, selfish, and absolutely insufferable. If you’ve seen even one murder mystery drama, then you’ve seen this one as well.
I think there were some genuine attempts by Close Your Eyes to be a tiny bit more more ambitious and artistic than its fellow Taiwanese dramas, but I wouldn’t exactly call them successful. In fact, it just made the lack of scares even more disappointing. It really all goes back to the fundamental issue of this drama not being a horror whatsoever. So, why waste time setting the mood and getting our hopes up when the end result is going to be a colossal letdown? That’s how I felt watching this drama go crazy with throwing out flashbacks, secretive clues, and red herrings at every possible turn. Despite its “best” efforts, even if you were watching this drama by yourself in the dark, you won’t be scared. Trust me; I tried this and was totally unimpressed. The cabin owner’s unplucked eyebrows still scared me more than anything in the plot.
My search for an interesting, well-written and acted Taiwanese drama continues. Is that really so much to ask for? Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark was definitely not that, but perhaps it will be a starting point for its cast and their careers. The lesson to be learned here is: don’t be tricked by a drama’s genre. Horror, this was not. Murder mystery? Eh, yeah but a bad one. The deadly combination of amateur acting, poor writing, and irredeemable characters made this drama a definite miss in my books. Feel free to close your eyes; not because it’s scary but because it’s a terrible drama to watch.
This & That:
- Jian Man Shu and Bryan Chang both appeared in the 2012 film, When A Wolf Falls in Love With A Sheep. She played the female lead, and he had a small supporting role as her character’s ex-boyfriend.
- Bryan Chang played the role of “Lucifer” in episode 11 of the 2014 drama, Mr. Right Wanted.
- Tsao Yen starred in episode 10 of the 2016 miniseries, Rock Records in Love.