Anxious, vulnerable aspiring actress Sarah (Alex Essoe) dreams of being a star, but her latest acting opportunity may cost her more than she ever thought possible in “Starry Eyes,” a disappointedly so-so and often mediocre and (I’ll say it) downright silly low-budget horror flick. Isn’t it funny how potentially decent horror films often fall to piece during the last twenty or so minutes? There’s a delicate balance between bringing the film to a terrifying climactic crescendo and overplaying your hand, and thus, ending up with a just plain goofy finishing product.
I’ll give “Starry Eyes” Brownie points for effort. There’s some good supporting cast members, including Marc Senter, Amanda Fuller (both of which were featured in Simon Rumley’s suspense thriller “Red, White, & Blue”) and Pat Healy (star of “Cheap Thrills.”) Alex Essoe gives a convincing performance as Sarah, and her everygirl and even somewhat plain looks lend her credibility as a naïve girl who doesn’t recognize the ultimate evil until it’s too late.
However, the final few scenes emphasis on gore, brazen lack of subtlety, and endless clichéd sequences of Sarah’s hair and teeth falling out as she succumbs to the beast’s will prove to be not only underwhelming, but also a deal-breaker for someone trying to find the next great indie horror film. Too bad, because the first portion of the movie is suspenseful and genuinely creepy- what will this misguided waif do for fame? By the end, though, I just couldn’t possibly take the whole enterprise seriously.
It doesn’t help that Sarah herself wore out her likability early on. It’s obvious she finds her job at a sleazy burger joint Big Taters degrading and below her, but she seems totally willing to do anything, no matter how humiliating it was and how much it compromised her physical and sexual health, to get a big role. Get her ass looked at by her loser boss (Pat Healy?) So, like, totally degrading! Blow a dirty old man who might just be the devil (Louis Dezsaren?) Worth it. Success requires sacrifice, as you may know, but Sarah’s propensity for bad decisions makes her a infuriating heroine.
Honestly, Sarah’s roommate Tracy (Amanda Fuller) seemed like a lot more likable character and far more worthy of spending 90 minutes on. Not to mention the sinister old fart Sarah went down on was overacting in every single scene he was in. Which is a shame, because his minion (Maria Olsen) gave a genuinely unnerving performance worthy of good back-up.
I would be completely willing to reconsider my rating if the finishing product hadn’t fallen apart as bad as it did. What filmmaker don’t realize is that subtlety can work for horror just as well as it works for drama. You don’t need bombastic gore and total stylistic abandon to make a spooky movie. I hope the duo made this movie (Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch) remember that next time the decide to make a horror film.