Suffering from a hereditary vision disorder, Julia (Belén Rueda) is slowly losing her eyesight. Her twin sister, already a victim of the disorder, recently committed suicide, but Julia suspects all is not as it seems, and begins her own line of investigation.
Spanish cinema has had a successful run of late, edging its way to the forefront of European cinema as a whole. Films such as The Orphanage, Fermat’s Room and Timecrimes have enjoyed theatrical and home video distribution internationally, as well as critical kudos, their genre defying natures being especially attractive with the art-house crowds.
The latest film to be added to that list is Julia’s Eyes. Written/directed by relative newcomer Guillem Morales and produced by Fanboy Confidential favourite Guillermo del Toro, Julia’s Eyes has a similar genre dodging quality to its forbearers. Starting out fantastically as straight horror, as we witness the chilling demise of Julia’s twin (also played by Belén Rueda), moving into thriller and crime territory as the film progresses, but throwing in a decent jump-scare from time to time for good measure.
It walks a fine line between possibilities of a supernatural or rational solution to the investigation, and keeps the audience guessing throughout, unfortunately, come the finale, it become apparent that the film is a little non-committal as to its true identity, which weakens it as both a horror film and a crime story.
The acting is very serious, Rueda (The Orphanage, The Sea Inside) delivering well during the tense scenes while Lluís Homar (Broken Embraces), as her husband, provides a fine cynical counterpoint. As the film escalates however, events take huge leaps in suspension of disbelief, sometimes verging on the silly, at which point the seriousness of the performances are potentially snigger inducing.
It’s well directed, Morales excelling during the horror/suspense scenes, using shadowy areas in paranoia invoking ways, making one wish that Julia’s Eyes could have been a straight-up horror flick. We can only hope that his next feature will be.
Julia’s Eyes sets up an intriguing premise, provides good scares and it keeps you involved in the mystery, but ultimately is quite unsatisfying and not incredibly memorable.
B grade – for originality
C grade – for storytelling
C grade – for acting
B- grade – for suspense
Overall grade – C+
Watch the trailer…