Julia's Eyes (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner20/05/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Julia's Eyes isn't quite on the level of recent Spanish horror flicks like The Orphanage and [REC], but it's well acted, effectively creepy in places and lifted by some impressively inventive direction, even if it's occasionally repetitive and over-reliant on cheap shocks.

What's it all about?
Directed by Guillem Morales and produced by Guillermo Del Toro, Julia's Eyes (Los Ojos de Julia, original title fans) stars Belen Rueda as Julia, a married woman suffering from a degenerative eyesight condition, whose similarly afflicted twin sister Sara (also Rueda) dies in an apparent suicide, supposedly prompted by the failure of a recent eye operation. Refusing to believe the official verdict, Julia becomes increasingly convinced that her sister was murdered and sets out to investigate, even though her psychologist husband Isaac (Lluis Homar) warns her that stress could hasten the onset of her disease.

The Good
Belen Rueda (who starred in the similarly Del Toro-produced The Orphanage) is superb as Julia, striking a compelling balance between steely determination and chilling vulnerability. There's also strong support from Lluis Homar and from Pablo Derqui as a creepy hospital aide, while Julia Gutierrez Caba contributes a blackly comic cameo as (ahem) a typical Spanish mother.

The plot has echoes of classic blind-person-in-peril films such as Wait Until Dark, while Morales has clearly seen a Hitchcock film or two and chucks in several enjoyable nods to his classics, particularly Rear Window, which has a similarly incapacitated lead character. On top of that, Morales' direction is extremely inventive in its own right, especially in the latter half of the film, when he obscures the faces of all the characters so that we're forced to experience Julia's near-blindness from her point of view.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that, having created an effectively creepy atmosphere, Morales is then content to rely on cheap shocks of the cat-jumping-out/someone-behind-door variety and the film quickly becomes repetitive as a result. Similarly, the late introduction of an interesting character hints at an intriguing direction for the film to take, only for it to pull away just as quickly.

In addition, the script fumbles what should have been a powerfully emotional moment in the final act, so the climax lacks the dramatic impact it might otherwise have had.

Worth seeing?
For the most part, Julia’s Eyes is an effectively creepy Spanish horror enlivened by some inventive direction and a superb performance from Belen Rueda, though the script stumbles towards the end and it's never quite as scary as it ought to be.

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Julia's Eyes (15)
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Content updated: 23/09/2018 19:53

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