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Disclaimer

Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Movie Review] Starry Eyes (2014)

Theatrical Poster
I've never been to Los Angeles, but from what I understand (based solely on film and television that depicts it, mind you), it is a cold and shallow place. It's a mecca where dreamers go to achieve success, thinking that they will somehow beat the odds and emerge as stars. Nine times out of ten, they are chewed up and spit out by the entertainment machine, a broken and drug-addled mess. If they are lucky, they might land halfheartedly in the porn industry. But if they're really, really lucky, they just might find their big break.

Welcome to La La Land, ladies and gentlemen, where nothing and nobody is what they seem.

Sarah Walker is young and attractive, and while she might appear to be just your average waitress at the local Big Taters establishment (Think a spud-centric Hooters), she's actually—surprise, surprise—an actress just playing the part of potato pusher until she hits the big time. Between auditions and work shifts, she hangs out with a bunch of other struggling Hollywood types (her apartment complex is lousy with them) and attends some pretentious art crowd parties. It's no wonder she's so desperate to make a name for herself, so she can move on to bigger and better things.

An online casting call lands her an audition for the upcoming horror film The Silver Scream, from Astraeus Pictures, a once-renowned studio primed to make a resurgence. When she doesn't make the cut, she falls back on her old stress-reliever: trichotillomania. The casting agents catch wind of this and urge her to recreate it for them. She does so reluctantly, earning her a callback.

What follows is a series of more extreme auditions as we see just how far Sarah is willing to go to land the role. First she sells her dignity, then she sells her body. How long can it be until she sells her soul?

The Big Tater Girls
STARRY EYES is a lot of different films all rolled into one—it’s a show business melodrama; it’s an occult thriller; and it’s even a body horror film.  It goes from MELROSE PLACE to CONTRACTED to HOUSE OF THE DEVIL without missing a beat. Impressively, all of these elements work together to make a pretty satisfying whole, rather than feeling like disparate and patchwork parts.  It successfully peels back the layers of an industry that desperately wants to appear glamorous, exposing the grease and grit that lies beneath.

This is a movie that relies heavily on the performance of our lead, and Alex Essoe knocks it out of the park as Sarah, a believable combination of ambition and disorder.  Support is offered from the rest of the cast, including fan-favorite Pat Healy as her boss Carl, Amanda Fuller as her put-upon roommate Tracy, Fabianne Therese as her passive-aggressive rival Erin, and Noah Segan as her possible love interest and indie filmmaker Danny.  The older Louis Dezseran plays the nameless Producer, giving an unbelievably arch, but effectively creepy, performance.  He’s the one pulling all of the strings, and can be felt on nearly every frame of the film, even when he’s nowhere to be seen.

It is a slow-burning horror that may occasionally test your patience, but it will also test the strength of your stomach.  Just hold on tight and go with it.  It’s merely the big wigs at Astraeus Pictures seeing if you have what it takes.  Stick it out long enough, though, and the payoff will be fantastic.  You won’t see your name on a marquee, but you will be witness to a piece of cinema that is both shocking and beautiful.

And more than just a little bit gross.

Hail, Astraeus!

(Special thanks to MPI for the screener)

—J/Metro 

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