Monday, 2 January 2012

Review - Julia's Eyes (2010 - Dir. Guillem Morales)

I'm always a little bit suspicious when a film is presented by someone (Guillermo Del Toro in this case) or is advertised as being from the producers of another more famous film (The Orphanage). I automatically think that the film in question isn't good enough to sell itself. In addition to this, the filmmakers are entering that overcrowded horror sub-genre of 'Blind lady being terrorised by a nutter'. Going toe-to-toe with Wait Until Dark is never going to be easy.

Initially, I was proved wrong. There is a fantastic opening to Julia's Eyes with a shock that actually made me jump slightly. The tension/creepy atmosphere continues with Julia (Belén Rueda), a woman suffering from a degenerative condition that will eventually make her blind, being followed by a barely glimpsed, shadowy figure. Admittedly, the scares descend quickly into 'there's someone behind you' territory, but all seems to be going swimmingly.

Then it flatlines. I know that people have to do stupid things in horror films, but Julia is a bit too stupid to believe. Why would anyone, left blind after an eye operation, opt to go back to a creepy house, alone, where all manner of horrible occurrences have been occurring? Julia's Eyes never recovers from this.

One of the main stylistic features turns out to be irrelevant. While Julia's eyes are bandaged, the camera never shows anyone else's face. A good technique for building empathy with Julia and you know that when one of the character's is finally revealed, it will be a big twisty shock. Er... no. The person in question might or might not be a character that we glimpsed (for all of 5 frames) earlier in the film. When the character is finally shown, I couldn't state 100% whether it was the previous character or not. And I'm normally good with faces. The fact that the original character needs a name badge, so that you can recognise him later on, shows that his face is not that memorable.

At another point, you see (?) the world through Julia's eyes. In other words, you see a black screen. I was thinking that this could be a really clever part, where they tell the story for a few minutes entirely with audio. Er... no. Her bandages are off within twenty seconds. Another waste of time.

There are so many ideas that go nowhere. It's all very disappointing. On the plus side, the film looks gorgeous, especially in the initial half hour. Beautiful colours, depth of field and even a bit of foggy mistiness (always a treat). In the latter stages you are too bothered by the plot to even notice the visuals.

To return to the front of the Blu-ray case: "Edge-of-the-seat viewing from start to finish" - Little White Lies. Big Fat Porkers more like. Watch Wait Until Dark instead. It's way better.

If you like this you could also try:
Wait Until Dark, The Devil's Backbone, Tell No One.

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