- 31 May 11
Despite a brilliant premise and haunting moments, Guillem Morales’ Spanish horror lacks focus
With the visionary Guillermo Del Toro producing, Guillem Morales was always going to be under pressure to deliver a humdinger. But did the young director aim too high? Despite a potentially terrifying premise and an abundance of superb moments, Morales’ vision for Julia’s Eyes suffers the same fate as its visually impaired heroine – illuminated by brief flashes of brilliance, it never really finds its focus.
Following the death of her sister, Julia (Belan Rueda), who suffers from a degenerative eye disease, finds herself terrorised in her own home. Voices and footsteps echo through her house – but her lack of proof leave the police sceptical. To invoke Julia’s increasing vulnerability as her eyesight lessens, Morales positions the camera so that, like Julia, the audience never sees the faces of those around her. An admirably innovative approach, it does indeed create a sense of helpless frustration, but as Julia’s Eyes continues, the technique feels less creepy than contrived.
There are some haunting sequences, not to mention some serious gore. As close-ups show needles piercing eyeballs, Julia’s Eyes will leave you cringing, and the brilliant Hitchcockian neighbours create a skin-crawlingly creepy atmosphere.
But though Julia may not be able to see what’s in front of her, the audience unfortunately doesn’t have the same problem when it comes to the plot. With a small cast and Morale’s heavy-handedness when it comes to hints and foreshadowing, the story’s increasingly incredible, Almodovar-like twists are blatantly obvious.
And, it appears Morales isn’t above some good old-fashioned horror-heroine-perving. As Julia irrationally runs around screaming for a good twenty minutes longer than is tolerable, bras and trousers are abandoned in favour of skimpy, soaking-wet blouses. But then – as the promising, tense opening gives way to the messy, predictable lull, that may well be the only way of keeping the audience’s eyes fully open.