22 May 2011
Julia’s Eyes is another presented-by-Guillermo-del-Toro horror that derives too heavily from genre clichés. However, just like The Orphanage before it, this is a highly entertaining and effective film, with a final 30 minutes of pure adrenaline-inducing madness.
Belén Rueda (also from The Orphanage) plays the eponymous Julia, whose eyesight is preogressively getting worse. She is mourning the suicide of her twin sister (Sara), who was suffering from the same degenerative disease. Yet, Julia feels (rightly so) that there is something iffy about the whole suicide scenario, starting with the question of why she would kill herself now. Her amateur investigations reveal an important detail that she was not aware of about her sister: a new boyfriend. Who is he? And why doesn’t anybody know anything about him, other than that he somehow exists?
The film opens with the suicide and it is obvious that someone else was also in the room when Sara hangs herself - we see the foot kicking the stool from underneath her and she keeps cursing at somebody lurking in the dark corners of the cellar. So, we know Julia is right, but who or what is in the shadows?
Although it relies too much on amplified bursts of noises that only prove to be either a stretcher being pushed by paramedics, a cat purring, or a cup of tea falling on the floor, this is a refreshingly original take on a familiar story. Guillem Morales and Oriol Paulo’s script keeps things pretty tight and interesting throughout a rather unseemly 2 hours of running time - certainly 30 minutes longer than your average slasher / ghost horror film.
But it is precisely in these 30 minutes that the film truly outclasses the competition. Morales, who also directed the film, uses a very basic trick that will surely elevate your blood pressure to dangerous levels. Unfortunately, revealing that will be giving too much away. It gives a whole new level of ‘last-girlness’ to Julia and it fits the theme and the story perfectly. If Morales can pull tricks from up his sleeves like this in the future, we have a winner in our hands.
There is an admittedly idiotic plot turn halfway through the film, which feels too heavy-handed and convenient. Yet, it is obvious why Morales and Paulo’s script went there (and with hindsight there is a somewhat logical reason), but this is just one of the two minor quibbles I have about this - the other being the over-reliance on the ‘sudden-bursts-of-noise syndrome’. Overall, Julia’s Eyes is an excellent horror film. Highly recommended.