PLOT: When a young starlet finds herself up for the perfect role, she begins to fall deeper and deeper into desperation to get it. Soon she discovers that this coveted part may be far bigger – and more dangerous - than she had ever imagined.
REVIEW: The lure of becoming famous and seeing ones face adorning cinema walls can be impossible to resist for many in Hollywood. Year after year young men and women come to this mythical town and pursue the ultimate dream. STARRY EYES is about one such girl who works a dead end waitressing job and is hoping to find her big break. Sarah (Alex Essoe) is a bright and charming young lady who submits her resume for a mysterious horror film called “The Silver Scream.” And much to her surprise they call her in to audition. Simply as an examination on the nightmares of being a struggling actor, this creepy feature works on many levels.
When Sarah arrives at the audition, she fails to get a reaction in what is a horrendous and all too common experience. She puts her all into the reading and the two behind the table respond coldly to her performance. Yet afterwards, when she punishes herself for her failure in the ladies room, she is brought back in once again. Talk about suffering for your art – the hair-pulling is cringe worthy. Things get increasingly strange when she returns for a call back, yet against her friend’s advice she continues. The closer to nabbing the part, Sarah begins to have nightmares and strange mood swings. She even finds humor when one of her neighbors is injured during a pool party. The question is what is happening to the wannabe starlet? Is it all in her head, or are there other forces at work?
STARRY EYES wouldn’t work nearly as well without the right leading lady. Essoe is clearly up for the challenge. Her sweet and desperate nature early on helps make her transformation throughout all the more believable. Sarah is a complex horror movie heroine and the actress is able to bring her to life, even when the film takes a darker turn to the bizarre. And while a few of the side characters are frustratingly obvious, including her self-centered actress friend Erin - Fabianne Therese gives a good performance but it’s annoying character – but both Noah Segan and Amanda Fuller help make perfect fodder for the up-and-coming movie star to toy with.
Writer/director team Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer have some slightly jaded views of Hollywood and what it can do to desperate people, and they explore them especially well. Although the horror element of this story is slightly vague until a shocking sequence over an hour into the film, the build mostly works. From the audition process to those who take advantage of young women looking for stardom, this is an intriguingly original work. And when it does ultimately take on a more surreal final act, it is easy to digest and actually sticks with the viewer. It is ultimately as much a bleak satire as it is a bloody horror film, with an emphasis on the real life horrors struggling actors face on a day-to-day basis.
STARRY EYES presents itself as a dramatic examination of a struggling actress, yet smartly spirals into an occasionally vicious horror fantasy. Alex Essoe is perfect as a girl who gives into desperation in search of the perfect role – which ironically, this is for her. As well, the hauntingly melodic score from Jonathan Snipes helps emphasis the mysterious nature of it all. While this may get a little too peculiar for some audiences, it is no doubt an impressive independent horror feature that follows its own strange and compelling path. It may take a little while to get there, but once it does it is worth the diabolically offbeat journey.