Starry Eyes descents into a dark ambition with Satanic lustre.
Starry eyes is an occult horror film and an allegory for the blind ambition to make it in Hollywood. With ambition at its core the film centers around a young wanna be actress who is willing to do anything to become famous.
Prior to the metoo movement this film has to be seen in another light then we could or should now. It’s is not about the white powerful abusing males or the young female victims, but both play a major part in the monstrous ambition that drives them all. Even more so, Hollywood is portrayed as a satanic cult willing to sell their souls to accomplish their goals, and become part of the rich and famous, desired and admired by fans. It’s a Faustian pact that ends in pure body horror and graphic violence.
Sarah Walker is an ambitious young woman who wants to make it in LA as an actrice just as her friends. While suffering from emotional instability she is vulnerable and blind to her own faults and ambition. She goes through great lengths to accomplish her goals but when a big shot producer from Astraeus Pictures makes inappropriate sexual advances in exchange for a role in a horror film The Silver Scream, she refuses. Only to regret her decision later on and takes him up on his offer, inadvertently making a pact with the devil himself.
Why you should watch it
While the film has an ambiguous tone, it fits the character of Sarah. She is emotionally unstable and suffers from emotional fits. The film solely revolves around her character making her the living effigy of blind ambition. The casting director and the producers – people with faces but no names – are a symbol of abuse of power and the cult that is Hollywood.
The film walks a fine line between all the symbolism and metaphors and the plot. While the atmosphere and tone seem sometimes as incoherent as Sarah herself. Intentionally or not, it works and this sometimes confusing tone adds to the plot of the film.
Although Sarah is the main character and the film is seen through her perspective, her other friends get some attention too. While her so-called best friend Erin seems to be jealous of her, it is again seen through Sarah’s eyes, that is in fact not a reliable objective point of view. Though Erin is not the nicest person, neither is Sarah, but when Sarah’s deterioration aggravates, Erin sincerely is worried about her. This goes for her boss as well. This is an important clue that points out that this film is not filmend from a reliable but rather subjective point of view. That makes it even more interesting.
The music is nostalgic like the innocent tones of a music box and represents Sarah’s personality. But once she made her pact, she begins to change and the ambition takes over, transforming her into a different person. This change is gruesome and sometimes hard to watch. Body horror and graphic gore transform this film into sometime else. Just like Sarah’s bodily deterioration transforms her into something else entirely. It ends with great violence that is hard to watch and very crudely and harshly filmed.
The ending is a whole different kind of beast and fully transforms Sarah. All these different tones and atmospheres can be confusing or even depict a lack of coherence, but you’ll have to stick with the character of Sarah and her transformations and it makes sense. Her character and the plot are very well intertwined.
She is a shallow person, blind for her own ambition and actions and willing to sacrifice anything to become famous. She is the monstrous ambition personified, a seed planted by herself and fertilized by the cult, to blossom devilishly. It’s her drive and passion that function as her only motivation in life and consequently she loses everything, but only to gain everything she ever wanted.
It is sometimes a surreal film with hard graphic violence and body horror. With lots of gore and at the same time it is a horror film that is very visceral as well. Filmed before metoo this film can come across naive, just like Sarah, but maybe that’s intentional and therefore puts the finger on the sore spot.
My favorite part
Although hard to watch, and not per se a favorite scene, the scene where Sarah finally loses it, and becomes very violent against her so-called friend who is jealous of her, is very brutal but filmed in a daring fashion. It really brings the horror to a physical level. Sarah’s frustration, her own jealousy and taking off her emotional mask is the real climax after all the body horror transformations she had to go through. It’s very well executed and a relentless climax that makes this film stand out.
Gore factor: ★★★★☆
Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆
Originality factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
Starry Eyes is directed and written by Kevin Kölschand Dennis Widmer. It stars Alexandra Essoe (Sarah), Amanda Fuller Tracy), Noah Segan (Danny), Fabianne Therese (Erin), Maria Olsen (casting director) and Louis Dezseran (the producer).
Duration: 98 minutes. Music: Jonathan Snipes. Cinematography: Adam Brickler. Edited by: Brody Gusar, Dennis Widmyer. Production companies: Snowfort Pictures, Parallactic Pictures, Dark Sky Films, Title Media. Distributed by: Dark Sky Films.