I had heard a lot of buzz about “Starry Eyes” and when I saw it was available on Amazon I jumped at the chance to add this to my video library. I only knew that the film was about a young lady trying to make it as an actress in L.A. and the trailer had a creepy vibe that called to mind “Eyes Wide Shut” and potentially “Rosemary’s Baby.”
I was absolutely intrigued and given it was another film linked to Dark Sky Films I had faith it was going to be something fresh, different, low key (in a good way), non-CG and good.
I was not disappointed. The more I seek out horror films and find ones I love, the more Dark Sky Films is involved. These films are old school, classic style films that I’m going to be re-watching for years to come. These are the antidote to the overwrought, mass produced remakes/reboots coming off the Hollywood mainstream conveyor belt.
These are films with great acting, writing, directing, mood, music and feel like time capsules from the 70s and 80s when many of the great horror films arose.
“Starry Eyes” stars Alex Essoe as the lead character Sarah, at first glance the stereotypical struggling actress looking for her big break while holding down a crappy waitress job. Her circle of friends are mostly supportive, but one gal, Erin (Fabianne Therese) is clearly not in her corner. Her disingenuous support and congratulations are delivered with a consistently sugary sweet coating.
Sarah is dejected, losing faith and we watch her have weird episodes when faced with stress and disappointment. Then there’s the audition that changes everything.
In a scene having a very David Lynch vibe, two unusual characters The Casting Director (the always amazing Maria Olsen) and The Assistant (Marc Senter) give her odd directions and she clearly doesn’t give them what they want. Finding herself in the women’s washroom in tears she snaps. A sudden explosion of rage and temporary insanity which is witnessed by Olsen who brings her back to the audition.
In the new audition, they push her to unleash her inner “monster” and after some delay she does. In a scene that has to be seen to be understood, lead actress unleashes a fit that’s unnerving and raw. She gets past the audition to a private meeting The Producer (Louis Dezseran).
At his creepy mansion, The Producer blatantly implies that in exchange for sexual favors he’ll make her a star. Running in disgust she confides in friends and they all agree she’s done the right thing, and Sarah returns to her routine life of waitress drudgery. Soon the desire to achieve stardom overwhelms her and she returns to the mansion to surrender to The Producer.
What follows I won’t spoil, but the slow burn build up to her surrender and the transformation of her character is stunning. This is one of those roles you can’t see many actresses having been able to handle/cope with (such as Laura Dern in David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” or Jenny Spain in “Deadgirl”).
The final act is bloody, disturbing, twisted and calls to mind a lot of great horror film moments. At the same time, “Starry Eyes” remains true to its own unique vision. Even a few weeks later, the ending continues to reverberate in my mind like the blinding reflection of sunlight on another car’s windshield. You blink but that “after image” haunts you.
If you love horror, strong female roles/leads and exploring unsettling themes on a dark journey you MUST see “Starry Eyes” and soon. It’s an instant classic I’m proud to have in my collection. As a horror author, this is exactly the kind of film that resonates with me on every level.
Watch the trailer:
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