Julia’s Eyes, 2010.
Directed by Guillem Morales.
Starring Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar and Pablo Derqui.
The story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister.
I have a small fear: I’m scared of losing my eyesight. Call it a shallow fear if you will, but it’s still a fear nonetheless. The feeling of vulnerability. No longer being able to differentiate between what is really there and what your mind forces out from your subconscious to wave in front of your naked face. Close your eyes now. Do it. What do you see? Macabre faces? Your worst fear? Anything is possible under the cruel blanket of darkness. So obviously, the horror story of a woman going blind is going to hit home for me in a big way. But on paper, it sounds a tricky story to reveal on the big screen, especially when it’s from her perspective.
Julia’s Eyes opens with a blind woman hanging herself at the hands of an unseen man and get’s darker from there. The blind woman in question is Sara, twin sister of Julia, an astronomer who has the same progressive disease that Sara is suffering from; eventual blindness. Julia and her loving, but controlling husband, Isaac, discover the corpse of Sara, but she doesn’t believe it was a suicide. The story turns into a paranoid detective story for the first half of the film, but develops in such ways that they caught me by total surprise. Let’s just say that Julia is the only one in the film with absolutely no secrets or hidden agendas to hide. At times, it felt like a classic Hitchcock horror.
One of the most outstanding techniques used was the use of lighting and a swirling effect on the lens to simulate Julia’s visual problem. Most of the film has a very moody lighting motive to remind you that you’re watching a horror. Whenever we dive into Julia’s point of view, her disability subtlety warps the surroundings. Is there someone there, or is it just the smudges playing tricks with you? It was the only special effect I spotted in a film that abandoned the use of any computer aided tricks that make a masterful horror feel like a cheap slasher.
As a couple, Julia and Isaac appear to be rather melodramatic at times. There are times when the pillow chat reads like something from a romance novel. Sometimes it’s lovely and gooey, but other times it left me with a sense of confusion over whether the film had given up being a horror and wanted to dive into the characters for the rest of its stay. At pivotal moment in the film, Julia succumbs to blindness, but a moving montage show’s her coping in a rather uplifting way. The character develops into one that is far more vulnerable than the strong inquisitive beauty we were introduced to earlier on. You’d think this jarring change of tone would ruin the film, but it acts very well as an endearing distraction whilst the third act gets itself set up behind the scenes to bring all the shocks and twists all in one blinding barrage.
It’s not often that I find myself yelling at a TV when it’s working perfectly, that’s how good a film this is. Moments of suspense wrapped under an overlying fear of constant dread and enough tender character development to get you more attached to Julia. The ongoing theme of Julia’s Eyes is about vulnerability and trusting in other people to help. A pulse surging horror that had me squirming in my seat and screaming at the television in helpless excitement. Don’t turn away or close your eyes.
Julia’s Eyes is released on DVD on September 12th.
Will Preston is a freelance writer from Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website) and makes short films.