Remembering the film that set the two directors onto that dreaded path that led them to remaking Pet Sematary!
Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break.
After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful… and all together terrifying.
There are loads who swear that the horror genre is dead! Too much of the Found Footage lark, remakes of classics and not enough original material, are all the excuses being made that showcase horror in a bad light. Sometimes, hearing this debate makes me nod in agreement, I mean I only have to look at Rob Zombie’s disastrous Halloween 2 again to see how at times this market can go so badly wrong,
But then just as I get tired of yet another horror set in an abandon Asylum, where characters are too stupid to put down the camera and just get out of there, a new horror lands on my lap, a little beauty that comes out of nowhere. A film that may not set the box office alight, or even just head straight to DVD, but once you stumble upon it, the film makes you rediscover your love of the genre all over again.
Fans of David Lynch and the early work of Roman Polanski is all you need to know of how Starry Eyes sets about its whole concept. While 70’s classic Rosemary Baby in particular is a heavy influence on this film, you sense from the old style music to the red titles that bask in their own limelight when they appear on screen, that the recent House Of The Devil is its main blueprint and I can only imagine Ti West who has been a major influence on this style of horror making in recent times, will be one of this film’s biggest fans, because it comes across like one of his in all but name.
The credit for this marvellous old style horror goes to the two who not only wrote but also directed, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, who after this, surely add to the growing list of talented people who can only serve the horror genre well in the future. But while I can only applaud these two, my full praise goes to the one person who carries the entire film on her shoulder and that is Alexandra Essoe whose portrayal of Sarah Walker is the heart beat of the entire show. Its amazing that in this film she plays a struggling actress waiting for her big break, while in real life, Starry Eyes should bring her widespread acclaim.
The plot itself is something we have seen many times before, but all good horrors are the ones with the simple premise. Here we have Sarah, a woman who can not get the break she wants and lives a very depressing life. Way before a single blood is dropped, the film feels ugly, that something bad is amiss, a good sign that you watching a great horror. From the off we see Sarah looking at herself in the mirror and “punishing herself” for her failures, the scene adds weight when we see her just gazing at her own reflection, a hint that there is something deeper and darker underneath that skin.
Even her workplace. is not a release from life, serving plates at a diner while her obnoxious boss (Pat Healy) either can’t stop staring at her ass, or telling her that this job means everything, simply because he needs to justify his sole reason for working in such a dead end place.
Just like her friends, many which are room mates are just wasting away, all have dreams of being something big, but not really doing anything about it, and as Sarah tries to branch out a little, to see what is out there, her attempts are shot down by silly bitchy comments, which like her work boss, are only being said to make them feel better.
Its a grim bleak world and Starry Eyes basks in it, so much that you do feel for Sarah, who in her frustration at failure in her life, results in a fit of rage that results in her pulling clunks out of her hair. This is witnessed by the casting duo of Astraeus Pictures, (Maria Olsen and Marc Senter) a once renowned Horror studio who are on the comeback with a film called The Silver Scream and are seeking a female lead. While her first audition stank, the howls of rage heard from the locked bathroom convinces the duo to give her another go, a decision that results in Sarah’s life changing forever.
We have all been in those shoes, where we want something better in life, just that one chance and with numerous Reality Shows on our Telly every week, Starry Eyes, questions the lengths we would go to. Sarah herself, after one too many questionable auditions walks away from the film, only to be sucked back in thanks to a life that does not offer much opportunities. Its here that the writing sparkles as while we soon go into the far reaches of horror fantasy, the whole concept is grounded in realism.
For the majority of the running time, the film plays more of a thriller than a horror but you always sense that there is something coming and its going to be bad. By accepting her one and only chance of stardom, the film switches from Lynch to Cronenberg in quick fashion, releasing a barrage of The Fly memories that will gross but entertain in equal fashion and like the lead character itself is where the film comes alive. The last twenty minutes releases a barrage of blood, with one scene even managing to equal the fire extinguisher scene from Irreversible, and even I was taken back at just how gruesome and horrific this film got.
Starry Eyes is a magnificent horror film, a borderline classic that simply took my breath away. Its rare these days that I give such praise because the market at the moment is filled with the same old crap, but my word, I was completely blown away by this movie.
Its a bleak tale of despair and worry of failure that results in hope but at what price. Its an ugly movie that sums up the times we live in and bizarrely hints that we all could do what Sarah ends up doing…….I mean a life of nothing, or a life of everything, its a deep concept and a perfect after movie discussion that resulted in giving IT Follows a real rival for horror film of 2015…..because like I can only keep on shouting from the roof tops………Starry Eyes…is that good…………..