Director: Guillem Morales
Cast: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Pablo Derqui
When it comes to horror, it's what you don't see that truly freaks you out. So things are pretty terrifying for Julia (Rueda), whose eyesight is slowly degenerating. Not least because she's just found her already-blind sister hanging from a rope in the basement.
As she investigates her sister's death and mysterious boyfriend, things get darker and darker, until eventually they disappear altogether. And that's when Guillem Morales really gets things going.
Produced by Guillermo del Toro's Rodar y Rodar, Julia's Eyes will get a lot of comparisons to 2007's The Orphanage. It doesn't help that unlike Juan Antonio Bayona's melancholic horror, Julia's Eyes feels like two different movies. Jumping from psychological horror to straight-out slasher, the script leaves the excellent Belén Rueda fumbling around in the dark for some consistency. But Morales' inspired direction makes sure you never take your eyes off the screen.
Playing around with first-person perspective, he glides the camera down dimly lit corridors with a nack for visual tension. He understands how to exploit the edges of the frame, so when the bandages go over Julia's eyes after some surgery, our vision is restricted too.
These bold flourishes escalate the terror in the film's second half. That's not to say it starts off poorly. Supported by the typically strong Lluis Homar, Julia's attempts to unravel her sister's enigmatic suicide are engrossing. But only when our heroine loses her sight, helped by loyal nurse Ivan (Derqui), do we really start to feel her fear.
And that's when the movie shifts towards a more conventional serial killer flick - a tonal leap that climaxes in an excellent set piece that will keep your retinas riveted. Things are almost ruined by the over-elaborate twists and emotional epilogue, but Julia's Eyes has just enough scares to stop you seeing all the plot holes.
Superb visuals and a strong cast keep you staring at Julia's Eyes, even when you want to look away.
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