Sunday, 29 March 2015


What would a person do to make it in Hollywood? Starry Eyes, written and directed by Kevin Kolsch, doesn't give any definitive solutions as to the 'hows' and 'whys', but it sure as hell hammers its answer home with a dumbbell. Alexandra Essoe gives it everything, quite literally in fact, in this shocking body-horror that pulls no punches. 

Determined to make it in Hollywood, Sarah (Alex Essoe) spends her days working a dead-end job and attending countless casting calls in hope of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new horror movie by a mysterious production company. Stardom, however, comes at a price, and Sarah is about to find out the hard (and bloody) way.

Starry Eyes isn't afraid of taking risks, turning the horror genre on its head from the outset. Sarah may look like the innocent horror movie heroine but she's clearly unhinged. Early exchanges suggest that she's surrounded by a bunch of heartless morons, but as the movie unfolds we discover that Sarah plays the puppet on a string to disguise her true nature and her friends are the true victims of the piece. 

It's a neat twist, but hardly a spoiler, because Starry Eyes knows where it's going and crosses the line with true conviction. Alex Essoe is breathtaking in this, fully committed to creating a character both sympathetic and cruelly calculating. A lesser performance would have buried the film, but Essoe nails it wholeheartedly. Scarily so in fact. 

Starry Eyes doesn't dig too deep, it really doesn't have to. The message is simple - some people will stop at nothing to get what they want. Which leaves more room for gruesome horror, and believe me, Starry Eyes doesn't shy away from icky, gut-wrenching scenes of self-harm, depredation and violence. 

Hard to watch and beautifully tragic, Starry Eyes is disturbing, unsettling, bleak and brutal. Right up our street then. 

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