Directors: Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer
Cast: Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan, Fabianne Therese, Shane Coffrey, Natalie Castillo, Pat Healy, Nick Simmons
Running Time: 95 minutes
Any critique or look at Hollywood in any way is always worth noting, David Lynch, perhaps, with the best example of the Hollywood system with MULHOLLAND DRIVE or even Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s STARRY EYES leans more toward the Lynch side of things as they tell the story of a girl, Sarah (Alex Essoe), an aspiring actress living in Hollywood who decorates her room with famous stars’ photos and someone who’s prone to the odd moment of lashing out where she’ll pull her hair out and completely lose it. She sees herself as a person who’s doing something, as opposed to the ‘friends’ she constantly finds at her apartment who aren’t, in her eyes. Then, it comes, the chance of a lifetime and she’s ready to take it, but it comes with a price and she must decide whether she can pay it or not.
Through the first two acts the film plays out as a psychological thriller as Sarah’s mental state comes into question; is what we’re seeing actually happening or not? It doesn’t play for scares, it’s not a jump-fest, it’s dealing with issues of what a person is willing to do to get what they want and, in that sense, it’s a horror that affects all of us. The film is very much a sole experience for Sarah and one that becomes more and more real as the audition process moves ahead up to her meeting the producer (Louis Dezseran) where things begin to take a turn for the sinister. As we enter the finale, things change, and the film becomes full-on horror and gore that is surely going to pleasure horror aficionados.
Given what’s come before, the direction that the film goes may lose some. The ripping apart of the Hollywood system aspect is unique because it isn’t done much, coming at it from a horror side especially, due to what can explored visually within the genre which prompted early questions over Sarah’s mental state. The move into more conventional horror, perhaps, loses that side of the film but it does work in conveying what’s happening to Sarah, the meaning gets a little lost though. Regardless, the directors are committed to the change and don’t hold back once they’ve made it which is admirable. They’re aided by a committed leading lady in Essoe who doesn’t hold anything back in any scene, especially when she’s required to play-up the psychological side of the plot. The ending has a lasting impact, the visual of what’s transpired loops back to the films’ meaning to unveil the real horror.
STARRY EYES is a decent horror that, because of its subject matter, ranks itself alongside the likes of Lynch but carves a hole for itself with its blending of sub-horror variations.
STARRY EYES is released next year.