Director: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch
Writers: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch
Cast: Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Noah Segan, Natalie Castillo, Pat Healy, Marc Senter, Maria Olsen, Lou Dezseran
World Premiere | Dark Sky Films
Not Rated | 98 Minutes
Release Date: March 8 (SXSW)
Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker (Alex Essoe) spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break.
After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in The Silver Scream, a new film from a mysterious production company. With this opportunity, however, comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her into something beautiful and altogether terrifying.
The producers of The Silver Scream are actually members of a satanic cult that has been operating as Hollywood’s gatekeepers since the Golden Age. They have the power to make Sarah a star, but it will come at a terrible price – her soul.
Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Absence), Starry Eyes is an occult thriller about possession, ambition, and the true cost of fame. The filmmakers are interested in ambition in its most ugly and visceral form, taking the classic tale of an up-and-coming actress searching for her big break and turning it into a nightmarish metaphor.
From Travis Stevens, the producer of Cheap Thrills, A Horrible Way to Die, and Jodorowsky’s Dune, Starry Eyes is reminiscent of films like Lovely Molly, House of the Devil, Black Swan, and even Jennifer’s Body.
Widmyer and Kolsh’s film explores themes of transformation, paranoia, and body horror as we witness a young woman going through a psychotic breakdown. Like Gretchen Lodge’s Molly, Natalie Portman’s Nina, or Megan Fox’s Jennifer, Alexandra Essoe’s Sarah loses herself to the beast within – a woman possessed, willing to do anything (even kill) to get what she wants.
I’m extremely impressed with Starry Eyes, from Jonathan Snipes‘ entrancing score to the exquisite cinematography by Adam Bricker, but it’s Essoe’s transformative, otherworldly performance that elevates Widmyer and Kolsch’s film to must-see material. Essoe is able to show Sarah at her weakest and most vulnerable before effortlessly shifting into something indestructible – fueled by an ambition and confidence that is unquestioned. Essoe is brilliant in this film – so much so that you may question if she did, in fact, sell her soul to Satan [no judgement].
Starry Eyes is a fantastic horror film that depicts Hollywood as a frightening landscape of failed hopes, crushed dreams, and corrupted morality – so basically, what Hollywood is really like. Starry Eyes is the best horror film of 2014 thus far – a movie so fresh and inspired that it makes me believe there’s still some life (or death) left in this genre after all.