When I finished watching Starry Eyes I looked down at my notebook and realized I hadn’t made a single mark on the page. This can mean one of two things. Either, the movie had me so engrossed that I didn’t want to take my eyes from the screen… or, which, unfortunately, seems much more common these days, the movie was so boring I was struggling to stay awake (or to keep from messing around on my phone or computer). I am happy to report that this is one of the rare cases when the former is the case. It’s not that Starry Eyes is an incredible film, but it is trying to do something different, and its hits far outweigh its misses.
It is difficult to summarize the plot of Starry Eyes without giving away too much, but I’ll give it a try. The film is about Sarah, a struggling actress, who gets the audition for the role of a lifetime. However, the audition, the role and the filmmakers, are not all that they appear. Sarah has to go jump through more hoops and make more compromises to get the part. While that description is technically accurate it really doesn’t do the film justice. In a way, the movie is more about a theme than a linear plot. That theme is: what are we willing to do to get what we really want? That came across towards the halfway mark of the movie when I thought to myself “how naive can this woman be” and then quickly realized that it was naiveté but desperation. Okay, so I’m sure that description comes off as pretentious and you’re all thinking that the plot of this movie is unintelligible. That’s simply not the case. The plot is extremely linear and, while at times questions will be left unanswered, what happens on screen makes sense (at least in a horror-movie way). Also, while the movie starts very slow (so slow, in fact, you may not know that you’re watching a horror movie) don’t fear, you will get your fill of horror and gore. In fact, the entire movie can be seen as a slow burn that leads up to an extremely goring and upsetting climax. There are also some subtle, but very effective make-up effects that are used towards the last third of the movie. Again, I really can’t say much more without spoiling several major elements of the film. So, what I will say is that if you stick with the movie you will be rewarded.
Another characteristic of this movie that drew me in was its connection to 70s horror movies. Everything from the music, to the pacing, and lighting of this film screamed 70s horror movie. The opening credits demonstrate that the filmmakers were clearly going for this. The only major departure from this subgenre is that the plot makes a bit more sense than some of the classics (like Suspiria, City of the Dead, and Don’t Look Now). It also shares quite a bit of DNA with Rosemary’s Baby, in both plot and pacing. By aping the past the filmmakers were able to come up with a film that felt both familiar and refreshing.
That’s a short one… but sometimes it’s much easier to write more when being negative.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on The Exorcist.