Like her sister Sara, Julia (Belen Rueda) is a young woman suffering from a degenerative eye disease. When she and her husband Isaac (Lluís Homar) learn Sara has hanged herself in the basement of her house, it appears to be suicide. But as Julia tries to understand what might have happened, she begins to suspect her sister died in suspicious circumstances. As she investigates, strange things start happening to the people around her and as her eyesight deteriorates further, she becomes fearful the killer will find and kill her too.
Review by Louise Keller:
I remember when I first saw Audrey Hepburn playing a blind woman in Wait Until Dark and how the film impacted on me. That moment when the intruder grabs hold of her ankle as she tries to escape from him is one that I can vividly remember. While Julia's Eyes is a totally different film, this terrifying psychological thriller cum horror film plays with notions that are both real and imagined and whose premise relies on fear of the known and the unknown, and most notably, of the dark. Produced by Guillermo del Toro who has given the film his seal of approval, this is the second feature for writer and director Guillem Morales, who has concocted an edge of seat scenario that is sure to get hearts pounding. Although it's a little too long and the heavy handed sound scape is a deterrent in the early scenes, the film comes into its own, when the scenario becomes full blown horror, jolting us into a dark and terrifying journey.
After a chilling opening sequence that makes good use of Burt Bacharach's 1967 song The Look of Love, we meet the distraught Julia (Belen Rueda), whose twin sister Sara has just committed suicide. Her death appears to have been as a result of her inability to cope with her loss of sight from her degenerative eye condition. It has been 6 months since Julia has seen her sister and when she and her psychologist husband Isaac (Lluis Homar) arrive at Sara's house, she senses foul play.
Julia's vision has deteriorated considerably and there is an underlying menace in her perception of all the people she meets. There's the lecherous neighbour Blasco (Boris Ruiz), his reclusive daughter Lia (Andrea Hermosa) and Soledad (Julia Gutiérrez Caba), the cat-loving blind lady next door. Does her sister's phantom boyfriend really exist? Is there someone watching? And what does Crespulo (Joan Dalmau) know - the old man with rasping breath, who gives Julia a mystery key?
Rueda is formidable in the demanding role of Julia whose impending world of darkness makes her vulnerable as everything she believes in starts to disintegrate. The plot gets a little overcooked at times; why would someone with eye bandages after eye surgery insist on staying alone in her dead sister's house with no-one but Ivan (Pablo Derqui), a hospital nurse to keep an eye on her?
All the creepy tricks of the horror trade are well used, with eerie noises, blankets of rain, flashing electrical storms, moving door handles, dead phone lines, windows that creak and open by themselves and ominous footsteps in the night. Morales' direction is most effective in the last reel in that the camera concentrates solely on Julia's face; we only see parts of the people around her. We experience what happens through Julia's eyes, giving cause for white knuckles and bitten nails. I had to look away several times in the lead up to the climactic conclusion; by then Morales' film had worked its terror.
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JULIA'S EYES (MA15+)
Los ojos de Julia
CAST: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella, Joan Dalmau, Boris Ruiz
PRODUCER: Mercedes Gamero, Joaquín Padró, Mar Targarona, Guillermo del Toro
DIRECTOR: Guillem Morales
SCRIPT: Guillem Morales, Oriol Paulo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Óscar Faura
EDITOR: Joan Manel Vilaseca
MUSIC: Fernando Velázquez
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Balter Gallart
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 2, 2011