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Starry Eyes (2014)

'Starry Eyes' from 2014 is a movie that has been on my radar for quite some time. After hearing nothing but positive things surrounding this movie, I figured it was finally time to remove its name from that dreaded backlog of ever-growing movies on my watch list. As with a lot of movies that come with high praise, more often than not, I find they never live up to the hype by the time I eventually get around to them. I guess the question remains, is the hype surrounding 'Starry Eyes' as well deserved as so many horror fans out there say?

'Starry Eyes' comes from the minds of first time writers and directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, who funded the project through rounds of Kickstarter campaigns. Given the journey this movie has gone on in order to come to fruition, I was amazed to see the level of quality on display in terms of the overall production value. Every scene is shot precisely and every scene is transitioned flawlessly. It came as no surprise to me to learn that the next project for these two aspiring film makers went on to make was the latest take on Stephen King's 'Pet Sematary' remake in 2019. And, say what you will about that movie, visually it is flawless.

With the more obvious horror elements aside, this movie takes a deep look into the darker side of Hollywood and the toxicity that comes with it. As uncomfortable as it is to watch these events unfold on screen, the more horrifying aspect is that these things still happen on a regular basis today. 'Starry Eyes' not only does a fantastic job of visually using its narrative to display these real world issues of abuse of power and the vulnerability of young women trying to make it in Hollywood, but it does it in a way that makes you as an audience feel compelled to go through this trauma with its central character as it unfolds.

Alexandre Essoe takes center stage as Sarah, a struggling actress with an insatiable need for stardom, whose extreme self loathing results in a period of physical and mental torture she endures in her pursuit of acceptance and fame within the industry. Essoe's performance is without question one of the most engaging performances I have seen come from an independent production in recent years. Portraying a range of different personalities throughout and displaying perfectly the constant change and growth of the the character Sarah as the story develops. I am amazed she hasn't gone on to have the break out career she so rightly deserves just based on this performance alone.

The practical effects and make up featured in 'Starry Eyes' it truly outstanding. I will say now that it is certainly not for the fainthearted, due to the gritty and realistic brutality of its closing act it becomes a rather challenging watch, even for seasoned fans of the genre. Considering the slow build throughout I was really taken aback by the sheer onslaught that comes within the last 15 minute of this movie. Not only was it so unexpected, but it is filmed in such a way that you feel as though you are there in the room as a helpless bystander to these events. It has been quite some time since a have seen a movie that has provided me with such a deep sense of realism.

'Starry Eyes' is undoubtedly worthy of the hype that surrounds it. It is a refreshing take on horror that subverted expectations and showcased the darker side of a very toxic industry that needs to be addressed. With a groundbreaking performance from its lead, an instantly recognisable score and a creative use of story telling all helmed by two note worthy writers and directors. For me personally, this has been one of the most enlightening horror experiences I have had in some time and I strongly encourage everyone to seek out this movie and give it the attention it deserves.



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