Horror Double Bill Review: “Julia’s Eyes” (2010) and “Mother’s Day” (2010)
In this review I have decided to return to my guilty pleasure of the horror genre; as of late I have been reviewing films with a more serious tone and message so hopefully this review will be more light-hearted! (Well…In my twisted sense of humour anyway!). Last night I attended a screening of two recent horror films at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre Cinema, Spanish Chiller “Julia’s Eyes” (2010) and the remake of “Mother’s Day” (2010); I have to say that the audience consisted mainly of the Abertoir Horror Festival regulars and it was a good atmosphere, more like a large group of friends just watching a couple of horror movies together and having a laugh. Anyway let’s kick off with “Julia’s Eyes”:
“Julia’s Eyes” or alternatively “Los Ojos De Julia” (the Spanish title) is the first feature film to be directed by Guillem Morales. I think the film’s premise sounded really interesting and different from a lot of Horror that is out there today; however I am unable to put my finger on it but I didn’t really feel I’d gained a lot out of the film, I wasn’t particularly scared and it didn’t leave anything thought- provoking with me. The atmosphere of the film was generally dull and this was consistent throughout. The sense of mystery within the narrative was intriguing at the beginning but as it built up for me it just became more farcical and anti-climactic; without giving too much away the fact that when the “bad guy” was allegedly caring for Julia (played by Belen Rueda) he was shot so the audience could not see his face until nearer to the end and appeared as more of a shadowy figure, therefore the surprise element was slightly disappointing as where the plot was heading became too obvious and resulted in a long drawn out cat and mouse game; then again I think the director just wanted to emphasise that the audience was seeing things through Julia’s point of view. The scares in the film were expected and predictable, dramatic music was used as it is in a lot of horror films in order to heighten the tension but instead of leading the audience to what they don’t expect, the film just threw scares at us that we could see coming. Admittedly what I liked about the film was the main character, I liked that Julia was portrayed as a strong, determined heroine and that her character goes against the horror cliche of the “weak blonde victim”, her character is also likeable and easy to empathise with. For the majority of the film it felt like it fit into the thriller genre rather than horror and it wasn’t very gore focused which I liked as I have previously stated in other reviews the less the audience sees the more effective it is. I occasionally enjoy films that build up slowly and save the gore till the very end; in that sense the film reminded me a little bit of Takashi Miike’s “Audition” (2000); however the scene in question was more uncomfortable rather than over the top but just seemed pointless and used for shock value than having relevance. Unfortunately after building itself up fairly well the film failed for me on the fact that once we meet “the killer” it didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do or where it was going to end and a lot could have been cut out; the plot felt very out of control. Many would agree that the ending concluded the film on a strange note; I suppose it ended hopeful for the protagonist; however it was overly cheesy and I felt like I was watching some weird Sci-Fi film, the tone separated itself massively from the rest of what we had just viewed. So “Julia’s Eyes”, a decent and interesting premise, a strong and well written main character and I admire that it decided to be different by having a blind woman as the protagonist; the film did fail on many levels, there were too many cliche’s and obvious twists and it consistently felt as if something was lacking.
I was on the fence as to whether actually go and see this film, my first thought was “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” (1992) meets predictably boring horror remake and matters weren’t helped after seeing Brad Jones’s (aka, the Cinema Snob) review of the original along with Matthew Buck’s (aka, Film Brain) review of this version on the That Guy with the Glasses site which left me very sceptical. I hadn’t planned to bother seeing this but due to it being part of the Arts Centre Horror night I decided “yeah why not” and I was pleasantly surprised. I simply enjoyed this film because it wasn’t trying too hard to be frightening or shocking for the sake of it and it used its humour very well. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in a horror film literally from beginning to end, the lines were delivered at the perfect moments my personal favourite being “I don’t like disco”; I suppose its weird to depict this film as “funny” and “comedic” but that is honestly how I felt about it. Rebecca De Mornay’s performance as Mrs Koffin (The Mother) was utterly brilliant and yes it did feel a little recycled to an extent as she seemed to be playing the same psychotic character as “the Nanny from hell” in “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” nearly 20 years ago but I do think she was perfect casting and played the role well giving both a sense of edge and humour; all the son’s performances were also hilarious. I’m unsure whether its a good or bad thing but I found there was no character developments of the hostages, they are introduced to the audience and barely into the film we’re thrown into the action so I didn’t really care about them or what happened to them; I would say in terms of story and writing its a bad thing as character motivation and development is vital but a good thing also within the film as I could laugh at and enjoy all the twisted things that were happening to them, I also liked that they were all just as flawed as the villains. There were however too many hostages so that was a little distracting, making it all a bit convoluted as there were too many characters to focus on. I was pleased that this film used its violence subtly, I was expecting some crazy “torture porn” and over the top gore and I’m glad the film didn’t deliver that and didn’t try to sell itself purely on sex or nudity and only toyed with those ideas, it really made the film more refreshing in comparison to the recent remakes that perhaps take themselves too seriously such as “I Spit on your Grave” (2010) and “The Last House on the Left” (2009). The ending was a bit disappointing but I’m glad the film-makers were daring enough to be different and not go with the obvious audience expectation. I honestly feel like I’m describing a comedy here but the film for me was a fun horror and I would recommend watching it with a group of friends as its more of a laugh with a good atmosphere. Yes “Mother’s Day” (2010) (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman) is flawed and silly but I really did enjoy it. Now remember kids: “Don’t miss behave” ;).
The Cinema Snob’s Review of “Mother’s Day” (1980): http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/bj/tcs/21483-mothers-day Film Brain’s Review of “Mother’s Day” (2010): (http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/teamt/fbv/projector/31378-mothers-day-2011)
Hayley Alice Roberts.