While horror has always been an acquired taste for film fans, Starry Eyes is sure to polarize even the most ardent lovers of the gruesome and the macabre. Taking inspiration from David Lynch and Roman Polanski, as well as the Satanic cinema boom period of the 70’s – and the body horror of David Cronenberg, Starry Eyes is an ambitious effort that revels in its own nihilism; thus making it a stylish, unpleasant watch that explores the dark underbelly of Hollywood and the lengths people are prepared to go to if it means getting their face on the big screen.
Sarah (Alex Essoe) is a waitress and wannabe actress who can’t catch her big break; that’s until she gets an offer of a lead role in the upcoming production of a horror movie by a reputable film company. However, with fame and fortune comes a price, and achieving a dream means compromising your values and making a deal with The Devil himself.
If Mulholland Drive (2001) taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood is an evil place where corruption reigns supreme. Starry Eyes runs with this notion and applies it to a Faustian psycho drama that is sure to give conspiracy theorists a field day, and horror fans a fresh take on a tale as old as celluloid itself. In the film, the producer of the movie our protagonist is chasing how it’s an exploration of the darker side of the human condition: Little does she know that she’s about to become a pawn subject to such moral degradation; sexual exploitation; and far more sinister forces at work.
The film focuses on how far one goes to chase a dream: even if it means risking the stability of your survival. Sarah has a steady job that helps pay the bills, but her obsession makes her feel above it; and her delusions of grandeur are so great she suffers from disturbing nightmares and panic fits during her daily life. We often hear of those who succeeded after taking a chance, but Sarah is a prime example of the thousands of actresses who become victims of it. Not too dissimilar from the girls you see on casting couches on Pornhub.
Starry Eyes has occult/Illuminati overtones, which as I said earlier, is sure to give conspiracy theorists a field day. I love movies that explore dark underbellies and secret societies, and Starry Eyes pours fuel on the fire of the possibility of such sects existing among Hollywood’s elite. However, more than anything, this is a middle finger to studio systems and the mechanics of Hollywood.
Starry Eyes is occult arthouse body horror with satirical overtones and it’s easy to see why it’s garnered so much critical acclaim: It preaches without becoming propaganda and never compromises story or scares to enforce its message gratuitously. This is a grounded horror film set in an alien world, with strong characterization and enough visceral violence to turn your stomach. For me, this is horror at it’s finest. 8/10
Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Wydmier
Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Wydmier
Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Pat Healy, Noah Segan