Going in, I only knew the most basic things about “Starry Eyes”, like that it would be about the dark side of Hollywood, and deal with a young actress trying to break through – which sounded very promising. So promising, in fact, that when I sat down into my seat, I expected to see a movie that might turn out to be one of my highlights of this years /slash filmfestival. And while the first third of the movie only affirmed my hopes, “Starry Eyes” unfortunately takes a disappointing turn for the worse, and never really recovered again.
I really like the setup as well as the first half of the movie. “Starry Eyes” starts off with an uncomplimentary and uncompromising look behind the curtain of tinseltown, and the desperate attempts of a young actress to break through. She goes from one casting to another, while working at a fast food-restaurant. Cliché? Maybe. But I’ve read enough biographies of Hollywood-stars to know that this depiction, even though it might not be especially revelatory, isn’t far from the truth. After another failed audition she gets invited to a new movie project from a legendary studio (albeit just coming back from a longer production break). At first, they don’t seem too excited about her, dismissing her rather quickly, but when one of the casting directors witnesses how she punishs herself for the failure in the womens bathroom, it draws their interest.
At that point, I thought I had the movie figured out, and that the producers only claim to make a horror movie, but in truth try to make a documentary about ambition, and how far people are willing to go in order to reach their goals. Which could have been awesome. Anyway, I really loved what I’ve seen so far. Sometimes it were even very small moments that had huge meaning and subtext for me, like Sarahs scene in front of a mirror, looking for even the slightest amount of belly fat, which perfectly illustrates the double standard in Hollywood. If you wanna be a successful actress, you have to be in extremely good shape. And while that definifely helps with actors too, if you happen to be male and fat, you just become a “character actor” or a comedic sidekick. But roles for actresses that don’t match the insane body image that Hollywood puts across are few and far between. Anyway, the first half of the movie was extremely promising, and full of win.
To my huge chagrin, about the halfway mark [SPOILER]the movie brings in the satanists, and what looked like a great thriller about the spiritual abyss of Hollywood turns into a flat-out horror movie about satanists looking for a suitable host for the new spawn of hell [/SPOILER]. Which was just a huge letdown for me. Now, mind you… the entire movie is very well shot, the kills are joyfully bloody and gory, I loved the great electronic soundtrack by Jonathan Snipes (which is only available as LP – what the fuck?), and Alex Essoe gives just the kind of breakthrough performance her character Sarah is longing for. And as disappointed as I might have been about the direction the movie took, the transformation is quite well done. Nevertheless, I really would have preferred it if they would have stayed down-to-earth and in thriller-territory instead of going into the supernatural direction, after which I couldn’t take it seriously anymore. Which, given the promising start, really is a shame.