Thursday, 18 August 2011

Julia's Eyes, dir. Guillem Morales, wr. Guillem Morales, Oriol Paulo, st. Belén Rueda, Lluis Homar

I always get the feeling that when I tell people I like my horror, I think they imagine me snarling and slavering over every dismemberment and decapitation like Commodus watching the Barbarian Horde, getting off on the gore. And saying you're in it for the psychological thrill and not the gore-nography, well, that's like saying you read Playboy for the articles. Which is why I like to call Guillem Morales' film an atmospheric and moving Psychological Thriller instead. The bulk of the tension riffs, as all good chillers do, off our primal fears - in this case, the dark and one's ability - or inability - to see into it. Before I really knew what it meant, I remember reading the Nietzsche quote "When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." and being utterly terrified by the literal image of staring into a void, desperately trying to see into the darkness, beside myself with fear as to what I might see. With that in mind, there's a great second act in the film when Rueda's Julia, post-op, is told not to remove her blindfold lest any light leakage damages her new eyes; the bandaged Julia is pretty much centre-frame for the following twenty minutes, not alone and vulnerable as most horror conventions would have it, but interacting with other characters, who in a masterfully Hitchcockian touch, have their faces obscured, just out of shot, masked by opening doors and so on. We strain and peer, but the screen remains resolutely 2D, offering us instead tantalising blurry glimpses of faces and side profiles. It's a ridiculously simple conceit, and one that had me as tachycardic as any ghoul or goblin ever has.