– By @TheBlueTook
“A hopeful young starlet uncovers the ominous origins of the Hollywood elite and enters into a deadly agreement in exchange for fame and fortune.” – IMDB
So, Slaughtered Birdies, exactly how far would you go to make your dreams a reality?***
If you’re familiar with Faustian tales of desperation, desire and ambition, then this particular question won’t be new to you, since the premise of making a deal with the Devil has appeared many times over, across several formats.
STARRY EYES tackles this age old fable by giving us Sarah (Essoe) – a naive young actress in Hollywood – whose blind ambition gets the better of her when she is offered a starring role by a reputable film company. Working in a fast food place (‘Big Tatas’ – I’d 100% visit ‘Big Tatas’! You’ll see why!) and living with pitying, bitchy peers literally has her tearing her hair out, forcing her to overlook the slightly ‘odd’ workings of the offer and go all out to make sure she, er, grasps it with both hands, so to speak.
While the scenario is not uncommon, it’s the execution that makes Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s film so rewarding, showcasing ‘wonderful’ Hollywood as a shadowy and dark place, riddled with rundown accommodation and sleazy side streets. Not a sun-drenched hill in sight.
The film is very much a harrowing psychological drama, unafraid to visit places both darkly comic and extremely brutal. Courageous enough to run the risk of becoming a tired old cliché, STARRY EYES clings to its integrity and remains as ambitious as our main character, without having to suck the big one to get where it wants to go – due in no small part to the performance of leading lady Alex Essoe, who displays qualities a lot of the modern day ‘scream queens’ lack. Easily flipping from shy-polite to angry self-harmer at the drop of a featherweight summer dress, even when her choices take her down a bleak pathway, you can’t help but want her to succeed.
Some of the other performance are also very effective, namely from Noah Segan, Maria Olsen and Marc Senter (a criminally underrated old favourite of mine), who is vastly underused as the assistant casting director, reminiscent of a spaced out Patrick Bateman.
True, the film has its shortcomings. While I hate to be spoon-fed, the lack of explanation regarding the hooded cult’s intentions is a little frustrating, making that side of the plot seem a tad rushed and disjointed after all the careful build-up. Also, the supporting characters seem slightly formulaic and forced – the aspiring filmmaker, the pretentious poet, the sarcastic back-stabber – yet these misdemeanors are more than forgiven once the final act kicks in with some brutally visceral and unflinching special effects. Jonathan Snipes’ spooky electronic score is also a major plus point.
All in all, although STARRY EYES isn’t a slow-burner so to speak, it confidently struts to where it wants to go, and any faults it does have are assuredly brushed away by 2 directors who are well worth keeping an eye out for. Once their masochistic and diabolical creation reaches its conclusion, via some Cronenberg-like body horror, I’d be interested to know whether you think it was worth selling your soul for.
***<incidentally, if your ‘dream’ is to write for a non-paying horror website and you’re prepared to do pretty much anything, ANYTHING, give me a shout, yeah?>