Saturday, 21 May 2011

JULIA'S EYES review

From the same team that brought us The Orphanage (El Orfanato), the spanish thriller Julia's Eyes is now in cinemas. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...



Following the suicide of her blind twin sister Sara, Julia (Belen Rueda) moves into her house in the hope of discovering what led Sara to kill herself. Julia suffers from the same degenerative sight disorder that caused her sister to go blind, so with the help of her husband Isaac (Lluis Homar), must work quickly to find out the truth before her world is also plunged into darkness. As Julia's investigation progresses and her sight diminishes, a shadowy figure appears that may be closer to Julia than she thinks.


Able to lull you into a false sense of security and then turn the lights out on you (often literally), Julia's Eyes plays on that fear of going blind that, deep down, we all have. Particularly for any cinephiles out there, the idea of losing your sight is a horrible thought that reaches our most primal of fears. Without your window to the world, how do you know what to believe? It's with this train of thought that Julia's Eyes works very well, and it may well have you ringing your opticians for a check up as soon as possible.


Thanks to some creative direction Julia's Eyes has the capability to be nerve-wracking stuff. During one protracted sequence after Julia's sight has degenerated to the point of her needing a blindfold to protect her eyes, the camera works very hard to hide the faces of those around her, potentially shielding the true identities of those closest to her. Genius in its simplicity, it's a great trick that will keep you guessing and double bluffing yourself. Also understanding that what we don't see is just as important as what we do, the film relies on some original POV shots that prove how little we can trust what Julia sees.


It's a tad too long, occasionally borders on the ridiculous (a group of blind women seem to not notice Julia walking towards them on a tiled floor), and the climax doesn't quite deliver on the build up of the preceding 90 minutes, wasting the pay-off of the shadow man character that dominates the earlier scenes. After showing us some unpredictable foot-chases and ocular shocks and owing a heavy debt to renowned horror fare like Silence of The Lambs and the Pang Brothers J-Horror classic The Eye, the final culmination of events may stop a bit short of expectations.


There'll be an inevitable Hollywood remake that (bear with me now) could actually improve on this original by trimming some of the fat from the storyline. Within the raw materials there is a superb thriller with some very tense scenes, but the overall experience is brought down by some soggy exposition and limp revelations. Whilst not in the same league as fellow Guillermo Del Toro produced thriller The Orphanage (also starring Belen Rueda), there's still some surprises to be had when this film is at its most creative.


Verdict

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