Monday, October 29, 2018

Movie Review: "Starry Eyes" (2014)

Director: Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
Year: 2014
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

An aspiring actress desperately wants to make it in the movie business and learns she must be willing to do anything to make sure that happens.

Starry Eyes 2014 movie still Alex Essoe
"When you exit this room, you will either have made a lasting impression or blend into the sea of thousands of forgotten girls who pass through these halls every day. A photograph won't change that." (Image Source)
What would you do to see your name in the bright lights flashing on a shiny marquee at a real movie theater? "Starry Eyes" is written and directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, who will be directing next year's remake of Stephen King's "Pet Sematary." The story centers of an aspiring actress living in Los Angeles named Sarah (Alex Esso), who spends her time going to auditions, hanging out with other aspiring actors and filmmakers, and earns money by working at Big Taters, a royalty-free knockoff of Hooters. Sarah gets an audition for a film titled "The Silver Scream." It is being produced by a legitimate studio and could be her big break. She does the audition, and though she is asked to do extreme things during it, she nails it and gets a callback. She is eventually asked to meet the producer, who a sleazy Harvey Weinstein-type. She is required to do something she doesn't want to, and at first, she refuses, but as time passes, the missed opportunity starts to eat away at her. Sarah decides to comply with the producer's skeezy request, but what she must do to make it goes a lot further than she ever imagined.
Starry Eyes 2014 movie still Alex Essoe
"Ambition, the blackest of human desires. Everyone has it, but how many act on it?" (Image Source)
Aspiring actors and actresses working as waiters and baristas are abundant in Los Angeles. "Starry Eyes" turns those collective experiences into a psychological horror that explores the mental toll that constant rejection can take on a person trying to make it in Hollywood. The first half of the film examines this psychological aspect, but as it moves along its runtime, the horror evolves into grotesque body horror and eventually ends as a bloody gore-fest we definitely didn't see coming. This change in horror types may not work for some, but it sure as hell worked for us. We very much enjoyed this movie, which is far grosser than just its blood and guts aspect. The metaphors being dealt with in the latter half of the film hold on to that psychological angle even when the violence gets increasingly more brutal. It focuses on the mental and physical changes people put themselves through in the off chance that they will make it big in Hollywood. It shows how people must frequently step on others and cut ties from the past in such a dog-eat-dog industry that does nothing but take. It also touches on other subjects that have been in the headlines in recent months and shows how hellish the audition process can get in certain cases. It puts Sarah in a horrific position that many young actresses have most likely found themselves in at one point or another. It's a little crazy to think that this film was made in 2014 and the seediness of the industry started getting exposed just a few years later, further adding to the mindset that the "casting couch," or rather the "hotel room meeting," has always been an open secret in Hollywood.
Starry Eyes 2014 movie still Alex Essoe
"Sarah, if you can't fully let yourself go, how can you ever transform into something else?" (Image Source)
Though the first half of "Starry Eyes" can be a little slow, it builds to something grand, something we believe is well worth the wait. With a transformative performance by Alex Essoe and some bitchin' makeup effects work, this movie is definitely worth your time.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
RT Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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