It’s nice to encounter a movie that tries to be different, but “Dark Streets” is less unusual than simply nutty. It’s a sort of modern film noir with music and a look that tries to mimic “Sin City” on meager budget. And while it’s kind of intriguing, it comes nowhere near to being satisfying.
The plot has something to do with a major metropolis, apparently in some time warp between the 1940s and a semi-apocalyptic future, suffering from periodic power outages. Tangentially connected to the electrical firm at the center of the problem is Chaz Davenport (slight, mustachioed Gabriel Mann), whose father, the head of the outfit, killed himself, and whose uncle is now in charge of it. Chaz runs a nightclub with a floor show of gorgeous broads, including Crystal (Bijou Philips), but he’s still in constant financial straits. Enter a threatening cop (Elias Koteas), dressed all in leather and chains, who promises Chaz protection from his mobster creditors if he’ll take on classy blonde Madeleine (Izabella Miko) as his new lead singer. There’s also some stuff about a power company scheme to control the government, but that’s merely background muddle, though it seems to be connected somehow to Chaz’s ultimate fate.
But “Dark Streets” isn’t really about a coherent story. It’s about a musty, muggy mood, and purple-prose narration delivered raspily by a guy named Prince (Toledo Diamond), and dialogue punctuated by supposedly hard-boiled bromides, and bluesy music—lots of it, delivered by such performers as Etta James, Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole. The result is a thick cinematic gumbo, a mostly indigestible brew.
A lot of effort probably went into Frank Bollinger’s production design, Jana Mrovec’s art direction, Eden Barr’s set decoration and Maria Schicker’s costumes, as well as Sharone Meir’s cinematography, but although together they conjure up some striking individual images, eventually they all just blur together into a doze-inducing haze. Add to the mix Rachel Samuels’ affected direction and Mann’s weak turn as the drably drugged-out protagonist, and the result is a sadly malnourished mess.
Insomniacs may benefit from a trip to these soporific “Dark Streets,” but others are advised to steer clear.