Archive for Starry Eyes

Celluloid Screams: Starry Eyes (2014)

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Thinking of a Hollywood movie career? Well think again! Starry Eyes takes a bleak and cynical look at the price of fame within a stylish backdrop in Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s occult  feature.

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Determined to succeed and become a star, struggling actress Sarah (Alex Essoe) does whatever it takes to become the leading lady in the latest film of famed production company Astraeus Pictures. Working in a thankless waitressing job at a greasy diner and co-habiting with a group of fellow striving actors and filmmakers, Sarah’s frustrations and desire for success leads her down a dark and sinister path to the point of no return.

When Starry Eyes was first announced as part of this year’s festival line-up, it carried enough ambiguity about it through its trailer, generating plenty of intrigue.  A lone woman walks the streets of LA, framed in a way to demonstrate that the city of dreams is bigger than she’ll ever be to a synth-tastic soundtrack that could be straight out of a Dario Argento film (Suspiria being the one Starry Eyes emulates the most). Starry Eyes was therefore one of the most-anticipated films of 2014 with its concept holding a great appeal.

For the most part Starry Eyes is consistent in what it does. It’s dark and places a sense of dread throughout as it portrays the movie industry in an unpleasant light. There’s a disturbing vibe as Sarah becomes more and more distant from those around her and so far removed from reality as she chases the dream. Sarah is quite a complex character as it’s difficult to know whether to root for her, from the beginning it’s insinuated that she looks down on her actor friends, holding a sense of superiority through her quiet confidence and she doesn’t manage redeem herself the deeper we get into her story. This is something unusual for a character-centred piece. While Sarah’s characterisation’s  problematic at the same time it’s a daring move on the filmmakers part to create this cutthroat character who we feel is no more deserving than anyone else within the film.

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Sarah idolizes the starlets of the past and her goal is to be in their position whatever the cost. We observe her unethical auditions that become more and more nightmarish as they go on. The flashing lights effect that’s used creates a feeling of disorientation and the performances The Casting Director (Maria Olsen), The Assistant (Mark Senter) and the Producer (Louis Dezeran) get under the skin with their exceptionally creepy presences. The fact they are also nameless characters ramps up the creep factor as they could be any filmmaking company anywhere in Hollywood and questions that other than Sarah, how many other girls is this happening to; placing emphasis on the ficklness of the industry.

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The point where Starry Eyes falls flat is it goes from being this mysterious and startling chiller to what can only be described as a generic slasher. It loses its way completely creating uninterest and disappointment.  We see what’s coming as it doesn’t attempt to move away from predictability. As Caitlyn stated in her review of the film, it shifts directions on too many occasions that it becomes a chore to watch which is ultimately a shame. The finale therefore manages to leave the audience cold.

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Starry Eyes is a mesmerizing, interesting and ambitious film that takes the dark side of fame to a whole other disturbing level. It certainly stands out in its own way. 80’s pop group Bros once asked, “When will I be famous?” well the answer is when you’re prepared to sacrifice your sanity for a slice of the Hollywood machine.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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Shocktastic Scares at Sheffield: What’s going on in Celluloid Screams 2014!

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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The eagerly anticipated line-up was announced today for Sheffield’s scariest film festival, Celluloid Screams. One again Rob Nevitt and team didn’t disappoint with a selection of sinisterly intriguing features and shorts. Already announced was the opening gala film, The Editor with special guests Astron-6 in attendance. The Editor looks set to be a throwback to the giallo sub-genre with a retro feel, setting the perfect tone for the festival’s beginning. Astron-6 are the centre of Celluloid’s annual, “The Short Film’s Of…”, which showcases an insight into the work of a particular filmmaker. Astron-6 will no doubt bring some crazy horror to Celluloid’s blood splattered screen!

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Producer and Director Brian Yuzna was also announced as Celluloid’s main special guest this year. Known for Bride of Re-Animator (1989), Beyond Re-Animator (2003),  and The Dentist (1996) plus several others, Yuzna is a frequent collaborator with director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator 1985) and will be partaking in a Q&A about is contribution to the horror genre and helping bring H.P Lovecraft’s work to life. He will also be presenting special screenings of Dagon (2001) which looks the most appealing, Bride Of Re-Animator (included in the all-nighter) and Society (1989) giving us a sense of his interesting career in the genre.

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While not every film I was particularly hoping for is in the line-up (there’s always the secret film!); there is plenty in store to satisfy all our gore-hungry appetites! What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand vampire mockumentary has tongue-in-cheek written over it, coming across as a laugh-out-loud horror comedy.

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Starry Eyes, is one of the most intriguing films on offer with a sense of pure darkness surrounding it, there seems to be an Argento-type familiarity at play as it tells the story of a young, aspiring actress who falls prey to the lure of fame and fortune.

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Suburban Gothic is the second feature from Excision director Richard Bates Jr, while his first film was a mixed bag of mesmerizing visuals up against a strongly unlikeable protagonist, Suburban Gothic feels a lot more watch-able. Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler) is forced to move back in with his domineering parents, following being kicked out of his apartment. Raymond has always inhabited a special gift of communicating with the paranormal,  and is soon put to the test when a vengeful spirit starts terrorizing his small town. Its Tim Burton meets John Waters (who makes a cameo in the trailer!).

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Celluloid are also welcoming back Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson following their fantastic participation at the 2012 festival with their feature Resolution. Their next offering is Spring a darkly fascinating piece focused on a young man who flees to Italy and subsequently begins a romance with a mysterious woman. Spring is described as “Beauty and the Beast by way of Linklater and early Cronenberg”making it sound all the more enthralling.

For those of you who are hardcore, you get a chance to enjoy and endure the All-Nighter, featuring screenings from cross-over Sci-Fi movies including Maximum Overdrive, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Night of the Creeps. 

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One of the most exciting addition’s is the screening of The ABC’s of Death 2, showcasing 26 new directors with 26 new ways to die, judging by the trailer it looks like this sequel has certainly upped its game with plenty of crazy gore for us to feast our eyes on. We look forward to seeing segments from Jen and Sylvia Soska, Aharon Keshales, E.L Katz, Dennison Ramalho plus many more.

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead gives the impression of an absolute crowd-pleaser and will certainly close the festival on a high what more could we want other than a bloody, zombie comedy!

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Ghostface Girls (myself and Caitlyn Downs) will be attending, my fourth festival and her second. Look out for plenty of coverage videos around late October-early November. Plus a new video coming soon!

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All that’s left to say is bring on the blood, guts, gore, vampires and nazi zombies!

Celluloid Screams 2014 potentially could be the best yet!

24th-26th October.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.