Friday, October 30, 2015

Film Review: Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...opts for surreal visuals and grizzly scenes to conjure some great frights — it's wonderful combination."

An aspiring actress, Sarah (Alex Essoe), discovers the price of fame when she auditions for a movie produced by Astraeus Pictures...

Starry Eyes is an interesting film. The movie follows Sarah, who's stuck working at Big Taters and finds herself surrounded by unsupportive friends — who also happen to be aspiring filmmakers. One day, she auditions for a role in a film titled The Silver Scream. Although originally botched, she receives another chance when she's caught pulling on her hair and throwing a fit. Upon meeting the eccentric producer, Sarah begins to realize the cost of fame — and it's not pretty. By the end, the film strays into familiar territory — the same place most horror films end up nowadays. Fortunately, it offers some grizzly surprises and more than enough to leave an impression.

Starry Eyes is a great film. The story is very focused on Sarah, meticulously crafting her characteristics as the film progresses — I liked this. She begins as this sort of introverted and passive person and, even with the slightest chance at stardom, you can kind of see her true colors the narcissistic actress within. In turn, this makes Sarah's inevitable deterioration so much more effective. This focus on character was much appreciated. This isn't your traditional jump-and-boo horror film. Starry Eyes opts for surreal visuals and grizzly scenes to conjure some great frights — it's wonderful combination.

The film isn't riddled with flaws, but it isn't perfect, either. At times, I felt the pace was too slow for its own good. I love a good slow-burn, but this film sort of gets lost in itself at times. You have a few scenes that drag on only to show off the artistic visuals, which tend to bloat the runtime. I noticed the film lost some steam as it transitioned to the final act. It picks up by the end, but these moments cut into an otherwise stellar film. Some more efficient editing would have solved this issue.

The acting was great, though. Alex Essoe is a great leading lady, she nails her wide-ranged performance. The supporting cast, like Louis Dezseran, who plays the producer, was also strong. Although some scenes tend to drag, the film is shot well. I did enjoy the cinematography. The editing is great during the surreal scenes, but some fine-tuning would have helped the pacing. The music is fantastic, thought — a soundtrack I would listen to without the film. The film is written and directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer. The pair craft an original and effective horror film with a strong focus on character and plot. There are some issues with the pacing, but the film is otherwise very well made. I look forward to seeing more from this pair — together or individually.

Overall, Starry Eyes is a great horror film. The story was great, the characters were interesting, the visuals were splendid, and the horror left an impression. Aside from some pacing issues here and there, I really didn't find too many significant flaws with the film. Considering the somewhat “artsy” style of the movie, it may not be for everyone. However, if you're a bit more open-minded, I strongly urge you to watch Starry Eyes. I will add, considering the theme and storytelling, I felt Starry Eyes was superior to The House of the Devil.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sex and nudity.

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