Starry Eyes (2014)
Directors: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
(some spoilers in the review)
Sarah is a young actress living in Hollywood hoping to live her dream as a rising star. She works at a fast food restaurant, lives with her roommate and spends quite a bit of time with her group of friends, all striving to make it to the big time. The friends are the usual suspects, a musician who gets high most of the day, a director who constantly talks about his movie that never gets made, a bitchy girlfriend that puts Sarah down at every chance she can, and her more level headed roommate who seems to genuinely care for her.
Sarah gets an audition from a production company with some prestige and history in Hollywood. She is asked back for several more auditions, each one getting stranger than the last. It’s at the last meeting with the producer that she realizes she is being initiated into some kind of black magic cult. The Satan worshipers tell her of a transformation and a new birth that will take place enabling her to achieve success and be welcomed into the fold. She runs from them terrified.
When she returns home from the last meeting, she is disoriented, unaware of passing time, paranoid of friends, and often lashing out at them for little reason. Her body begins to change as if her old self is rotting away to make room for the new person inside. Her skin turns black in places, her fingernails and hair fall out and her lips turn black. The tension gets taut as she changes, putting her friends in danger as her mind seems to loose touch with reality.
It’s unnerving to watch as her world turns ugly. Alex Esso is a charming actress and plays her part perfectly establishing the hope and dejection cycle of a person seeking fame. You root for her success but when you see how far down she falls, its tragic. It’s symbolic of many young people that go out to Hollywood with big dreams, only to find a life of drug addiction and of being abused by others. This is modern horror film, personal, ugly, and self inflicted in many ways. There are a few unanswered questions at the end, but I think it leaves the symbolism at the forefront and is all the better movie for doing so. You literally have to stab your friends in the back to make it in tinsel town and you will leave your old life and values in ruins. The end suggests that she makes the transformation and will live with a newfound success but at what cost? As I said, this is modern horror (Martyrs, Cabin Fever, It Follows, Human Centipede) and it doesn’t leave you with a good feeling afterwards. It’s a strong film and an original story, but sometimes I think I’d just rather have a good ol’ fashioned monster and a hero that defeats it in the end. That said, Starry Eyes should most definitely be on your ‘to watch’ list.
A powerful film symbolizing the soulless path to Hollywood success.
I give it 3.9 creepy cultists out of 5 starry eyes on the blackened souls scale of hopeless dreamers.