Starry Eyes (2014) Movie Review
Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch
The new horror/thriller Starry Eyes asks the age-old question, Would you fellate an old white guy just to be a big movie star? Of course you would. But the movie’s not about you. Not everything is…
This movie’s about Sarah Walker (Alexandra Essoe in a star-making performance) She’s your typical wannabe actress trying to get her foot in the door. She’s pretty and probably marginally talented, much like everyone else is pretty and marginally talented in LA. Between failed auditions Sarah works at a classy joint named Big Taters. What more could she want? Probably to not work at a place called Big Taters with about half a dozen loser roommates whose acting/directing/writing careers don’t seem to be going anywhere either.
What’s a girl to do? Sarah answers an Internet open casting call. This is encouraging because nothing bad has ever happened from answering an Internet ad.
Sooner rather than later, Sarah gets a callback. It’s an audition for a horror film.
She blows it (“We‘ll be in touch“), which one can understand because the casting director (Maria Olsen, listed in the credits as “Casting Director”) and her assistant (Marc Center listed in the credits as “Assistant”) are two of the scariest white people you’d ever want to meet in a mostly darkened room.
Starry Eyes Star Filled Trailer
As is her wont after she auditions poorly, Sarah goes to the bathroom and begins to (literally) pull her hair out. Only this time our creepy German Casting Director happens to be watching her.
Casting Director likes what she sees. She invites Sarah over to try again, only this time to perform her little hair-pulling ritual in front of lights and a small audience (“I want to see your fit“). After some reluctance, Sarah complies.
Sarah goes home thinking she’s been made fun of, ready to slog back into her uniform at Big Taters. The handy uniform that‘s tight-fitting everywhere, but there‘s just enough room to fit her phone down her crotch.
Honestly, I’m just looking for any excuse to write Big Taters…
Anyway, while on a shift at Big Taters, Sarah gets a call on her crotch-phone. It seems her hair pulling antics have gotten her another callback (“It‘s…something different“). This may be the furthest Sarah has gotten in pursuit of her dreams. If she can pull this off, she may not have to work at Big Taters anymore.
Sarah is called to a barely lit warehouse in what looks to be Santa Monica. Casting Director and Assistant are there, wearing the exact same clothes they were wearing a couple of days ago. Not sure if it’s more disturbing that if they never changed or if their entire wardrobe consists of the same attire.
“Something Different” means that Sarah has to take off all her clothes, to show, you know, that she doesn't have, you know, inhibitions. It’s for, you know, the part. This also marks the first time in human history a pretty girl has been asked to take off all her clothes in order to get a part in a horror movie.
Sarah complies with Casting Director’s request. Her classy non-exploitative striptease is accompanied by the aneurysm-inducing strobe lights you’d find at the douchiest club in LA. Afterwards, she’s elated because she took off her clothes really, really well without any practice. She may not have to hang around with roommates that drag her down but she’s happy that all her roommates are white because minorities are scary.
Sarah gets another callback. She’s so confident that she quits her job at Big Taters.
This time it’s to meet with the Producer (Lou Dezseran, listed as Producer in the credits because there wasn‘t enough money in the budget for character names). He’s old and he’s white and he’s willing to take a chance on a newcomer like Sarah to headline a major motion picture if only…
Old White Producer puts his hand up her skirt and asks Sarah how committed she is to getting the part (“What would you be willing to do to convince me?”). This marks the first time in human history an old white producer has tried to trade a part in a movie for sex with a much younger girl.
Sarah bolts, knowing full well she may have just blown her chance for stardom. At least there’s always Big Taters…
What Works With Starry Eyes
- Alexandra Essoe- ironically enough Essoe shows genuine talent playing an actress who may not really have any but makes up for it with more than enough ambition. From the insecurity of her hair-pulling histrionics to when she’s looking like the girl from Contracted, Essoe is never less than convincing.
- Starry Eyes’ death scenes feel more real than 90 percent of the forgettable carnage one sees in horror movies. Credit the production’s (necessary) budget limitations in giving the film a lived-in, banal look, therefore making the scenes of violence genuinely shocking, even funny at times.
What Doesn't Work With Starry Eyes
- A case of a terrific setup that doesn't quite have the payoff to match. After a tense, if slightly predictable first two acts, SE devolves into something you might have seen in (spoiler) House of the Devil. Should that detract you from seeing it? Not at all. But you will notice a deflating of your satisfaction as the movie reaches its conclusion, though rarely have the words “Happy Birthday” been so ominous.
What Really Doesn't Work With Starry Eyes
- That there’s no actual franchise called Big Taters. Because I love big taters.
A nasty bite-sized starry-eyed gem about ambition gone wrong…or very, very right. See Starry Eyes for Alexandra, as her career will not be calling out Essoe-Ess anytime soon. Stay for the gore. And for the taters. And for the lack of minorities.