Review: Julia’s Eyes
Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro presents Guillem Morales’ stylish thriller about a woman trying to find her sister’s murderer before her degenerative eye disease renders her blind.
Directed by: Guillem Morales
Written by: Guillem Morales, Oriol Paulo
Starring: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Julia Gutiérrez Caba
Released: 2010 / Genre: Horror / Country: Spain / IMDB
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Guillermo Del Toro (the mastermind behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Mimic) took a break from directing to nurture the talents of other filmmakers leading to such fan favourites as Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage. He also produced Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, Sebastián Cordero’s Rage and Troy Nixey’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. His 2010 collaboration with Barcelona-born filmmaker Guillem Morales produced Julia’s Eyes, a stylish thriller about a woman suffering from an incurable degenerative eye disease who believes her sister was murdered after being found hung in her basement. The police and Julia’s husband believe it was suicide but she is convinced there was foul play involved and sets out to discover the truth before her own eyesight gives up on her.
The film, as is often the case with thrillers from mainland Europe, has a great sense of style. From unnerving use of the sound space, atmospheric lighting and a frequency of close-ups to add detail, Julia’s Eyes has an immediacy that hooks its audience into an intriguing plot. Belén Rueda is excellent as Julia, a woman desperately searching for the truth about a sister she feels she let down, and yet has to battle her own illness. She is also cornered by her detractors – the disbelieving police detective and honest but misguided husband – who draw you into her seemingly losing plight.
Certainly, Morales knows how to use his camera. There’s a sense of the Hitchcockian about the way he visualises Julia’s condition, and he uses his protagonist’s impending blindness to blind the audience as well, often shrouding us in darkness, or later in the film hiding character faces to example Julia’s lack of sight. There’s a terrific scene when Julia visits a community centre for the blind and stumbles into the changing rooms as several women talk about her sister’s recent death. The women, who are all blind, don’t know Julia is there listening but eventually one of them senses her by the way she smells. This curious scene takes on a macabre undertone as the woman who smelled Julia asks who is the man she entered with. A bemused Julia tells her she came alone, only for the blind woman to explain that the mysterious man is stood behind her.
But aside from some wonderfully creepy moments, Julia’s Eyes is ultimately shackled by a final third that features some convoluted plotting and a disappointing revelation. It seems harsh to criticise a film that is at times thoroughly engrossing, and anyone not well-versed in the work of Alfred Hitchcock will find Julia’s Eyes somewhat refreshing, however, despite Morales’ competency with the camera, the stylish nature of the film cannot hide what is a resolutely conventional thriller.
Julia’s Eyes was released on DVD/Blu-ray September 12th.
Review by Daniel Stephens – See all reviews
This review is part of 31 Days of Horror: