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Black Screen: Experimental French TV Show Is All About Audio

An experimental television show on France's Canal+ relies more on sounds than images to scare the daylights out of people

CALLS voice actress Charlotte Le Bon
CALLS voice actress Charlotte Le Bon
Virginie Nussbaum

PARIS — Some French television viewers were likely surprised last month when they switched on one evening to see ... a black screen. At least at the outset. Then, short subtitles begin to appear along with some vague, undulating and colorful forms. Finally, the sound of voices, which turn out to be those of four divers exploring the depths of the Atlantic, in 2026.

A lucky tip has allowed the divers — Gabrielle, Théo, Sun and Isaïe — to find a mysterious cave that contains a strange creature. That's when things start to go wrong ... For 10 minutes, the viewer listens, following the divers' exchanges, which are interrupted by bubbles from their breathing. The background music is simple but engaging, and generates just the right level of suspense as the neoprene-clad protagonists try to escape the beast. "What was that?" A long, watery wail ensues ... "A scream ..."

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