I was compelled to write this critique after seeing so many glowing, positive reviews for the film – a feeling I did not share.
First, the positives:
Technically, the film is sound. It’s easy to watch, nice to look at. Nothing boring or distracting about the visual compositions. It was shot by a competent cinematographer. Same for the editing and sound/music – it was well done.
As for acting, the lead, Alex Essoe, does a solid job as well. It can’t be easy to bounce between meek and sweetly optimistic, to terrified and revenge-filled. She does it all without ever going over-the-top (though, she does come close).
So what don’t I like? Well, two things stick out to me – things I can’t ignore enough to be able to enjoy the film.
First: as the film progresses, the deterioration and degradation of the lead character, is almost beat for beat identical to a film that came out just one year prior, “Contracted”. Now, in the name of fairness, the fact that I HATED (loathed, despised, abhorred) “Contracted” really doesn’t have any sway on my opinion of the merit or worth of “Starry Eyes”, but what happens to both leads is so goddamn identical I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the former film, and that was distracting. I’m talking identical scenes. In the way that you can only see so many night-vision-nanny-cam-ghost-in-the-room scenes before your brain shuts off automatically whenever it sees another one, I just immediately checked out due to the similarities. “Contracted”, boy. I can’t write a bad enough review for that mean-spirited, aimless, derivative drivel.
The other thing that got me tangled about this movie was that it just doesn’t add up. Look, I am all for suspending disbelief when watching a horror flick. In fact, a pet peeve of mine is people who pick apart the believability of some horror films. (Y’know, films about zombies and monsters and ghosts – they need to be believable.)
However, this film uses a logic to get the lead from point A to point B by any means necessary that ignores (and hopes the audience will ignore, too) any sensible conclusions that could have/would have occurred in the meantime that might’ve led the film in a different, exciting direction.
Take an amazing movie like “Rosemary’s Baby”, which this film seems to borrow from heavily. In “Rosemary’s Baby”, the fertile Mia Farrow is conditioned and lulled into a false sense of security by the sweet, loving old neighbors in her new apartment. Little does she realize she’s being set up to be the incubator for the second coming of baby Satan. The warning signs Rosemary sees are dismissed by her husband (a co-conspirator) as just imagination. And we, the audience, aren’t 100% sure, either – until it’s too late, of course. And that’s what makes it such an effective, well-made film.
However, everything about “Starry Eyes” is so…naggingly off and predictable. Every new scene screams at the lead, “Stop what you’re doing. Why are you doing that?”
It’s hard to enjoy a movie when there’s no one to root for.