In I’m Not Scared, Italian children play together in a field of wheat bathed by summer sun – and yet something about the quality of light in this enjoyably sinister drama conveys foreboding. The gaggle at play, including 10-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), challenge each other, as kids do, with pint-size dares. The adults, meanwhile, are up to something far more menacing, which Michele accidentally uncovers: He stumbles across a secret bunker at a derelict farmhouse and glimpses what appears to be a small human foot.
The film is adapted by Gabriele Salvatores (”Mediterraneo”) from Niccolò Ammaniti’s best-selling novel of the same name. With a taste for dark lyricism, the director delicately emphasizes the contrast between surface innocence and subterranean danger, and between grown-up secrets and boyhood bravery.