31 Nights of Halloween Horror part 28: Starry Eyes
31 Nights of Halloween Horror: Part 28 in a 31 part series.
A horror film reviewed, every night for the month of October. Tonight let’s talk about:
Starry Eyes | Dirs. Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer | 2014/USA | 98 mins
Sell your soul for the role.
When Starry Eyes hit a couple years ago it was all the rage. I finally got around to checking this flick out to see what the deal was about and it does not disappoint. Tonight we are looking at something much more psychological with Starry Eyes.
There is a lot more going on in here then just another simple story of tinsel town dreams and selling your soul, literally. On the surface, the movie is about Sarah played by Alex Essoe who puts in a stunning performance. Sarah like a million other people in LA is a struggling actress who waitresses to pay the bills in between auditions. Her “friends” are also all struggling people trying to break into the film business. The stereotypical jealous rival, director making his own movie, guy that films everything, they are all present.
She auditions for a role in an upcoming horror movie called The Silver Scream. When she feels that she did not impress the casting agents she runs to the bathroom and has a little fit that involves pulling out her hair. When one of the casting directors catches her episode she calls her back in for a second chance. However it is not more acting they want to see, but her having one of her convulsive hair pulling sessions which she reluctantly performs and impresses them. It is not her acting skills they are interested in but her willingness to open herself up.
Your name in bright lights… for a price.
When Sarah gets a call back to meet the producer she is beyond excited, he tells her she will be a star with her face on the poster, and the poster in the lobby, lobby in a theatre, a theatre with a Marquee. All quite a big deal for an actress with no credits to her name. He’s going to make her a big star, she just has to open up and submit to him as his hand slides up her skirt. This is all too much for Sarah and she bolts.
Once again surrounded by her go nowhere friends and degrading job she reasons with herself. She is already selling her soul, she might as well do it for something she loves and begs to have another chance. This time she will do what it takes and the producer asks if she is willing to die to be reborn under his new image as she goes down on him. Turns out there is much more to Astraeus Pictures then just making horror movies. It is more of a front for a cult preying upon would be weak starlets looking to do anything to break into the business.
I’m ready for my close-up.
Sarah wakes up the next day and slowly her metamorphosis begins to take shape. She gets physically ill, her hair starts falling out, her complexion worsens, finger nails falling out, blood oozing from her, vomiting worms, and violent tendencies. Here is where actress Alex Essoe really shines in undergoing the happy ambitious Sarah to the sickly violent Sarah who lashes out at her friends and those around her. After a symbolic blood sacrifice which includes a scene reminiscent to the fire extinguisher moment in Irreversible, though this one ends up more like Glenn’s head in last Sunday’s The Walking Dead, she is eventually reborn under the guidance of the cult and ready to go out into the world.
At the surface is it a movie selling one’s soul to reach the dreams we strive for, at its core it is much more than that. It is a transformation, a test to see how far you are willing to go for what you want. The movie is littered with symbolism in its use of color and actions. I found it somewhat reminiscent of a cross between the recently released The Neon Demon with the entertainment scene and 2013’s Contracted with the body decomposing elements with 70s Satanic charm sprinkled in for good measure.
A star is born.
Like many other independent horror films that have been coming out of late, Starry Eyes is a slow burn. A good 1/2 to 1/3 of the movie is watching Sarah go through the motions, it is not until she is willingly ready to shed her skin so to speak does the pace start to pick up and we start to get really enthralled to where the story will unfold and we see just what an amazing actress Alex is in real life. All the violence in the movie is saved until the end and while the aforementioned head bludgeoning is the grand daddy of them all the others are no less brutal in their portrayal that violence is an ugly thing and nothing like the cartoon killings seen in so many slasher flicks.
If you have the patience Starry Eyes is certainly a movie worth checking out there is more going on here than just what you are told. The rest you will have to see and figure out for yourself. Starry Eyes is one of the movies you can use, when people complain that there are no good horror movies anymore. Yes there are, you just have to seek them out and this new wave of horror isn’t going to give you a nice wrapped up ending, they are going to make you think and interpret things how you would perceive them. They are going to take their time getting to the point and they are not always going to be the obvious monster or supernatural being. Sometimes they are going to be us.
Check out the 31 Nights Of Halloween Horror channel for more horror movie reviews.