I don’t have to tell you that I’m a massive horror fan, it must be obvious by now that it’s hands down my favourite genre.
This sometimes mystifies me though, since it’s the hardest to get right and most modern horrors fall very far of the marker that could make them excellent. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been really engaged in a film and then suddenly, crushingly disappointed by a plot device, novelty scare tactic or more often than not: the ending. It makes me so mad!
We’ll see if the films in this series manage to break the curse. I’m sure there’ll be some real stinkers in the collection, and that’s okay. The stinkers are the reason Jillian and I got started in the first place.
Shall we begin? This week is my choice BTW.
As always *Spoilers!*
Starry Eyes (2014)
IMDB Synopsis: A hopeful young starlet uncovers the ominous origins of the Hollywood elite and enters into a deadly agreement in exchange for fame and fortune.
Sarah is a would-be actress who works at Big Taters (a Hooters style affair with tighter trousers). Her big dream is to make it as an actress, of course and it’s obvious her heart isn’t really in the Big Taters lifestyle. Alas, she’s not doing that well at the dream chasing, despite all the work she’s putting in. Sarah also has a worrying habit that helps her deal with stress, trichotillomania.
Sarah is quite a solitary woman with no apparent family. She has a roommate though, Tracy and a group of friends who all seem to have their hand in acting and film-making. At a party Sarah attends with Tracy we meet some of these friends; the obviously smitten (with Sarah) Danny and the group’s mean girls, Erin and Ashley.
Erin in particular is a total bitch, continually competing with Sarah to be the group’s successful actress. If Erin spoke to me the way she does Sarah, for the record, I would have punched her in the face a long time ago. But Sarah is somewhat passive in this context.
After the party, Sarah receives a call about a job she’d previously applied for online. A mysterious film called The Silver Scream being made by powerful production company Astraeus Pictures. That night she has a horrible nightmare about the audition but is a little more together when she arrives at the designated time and place the next day. There are many girls in attendance, one of whom comes out of the audition space in tears.
The audition is overseen by an indifferent (and bitchier) Chuck Bass (Marc Senter) and the po-faced Casting Director (Maria Olsen). Neither seem particularly impressed by Sarah, and she faces the usual ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ line as she leaves. She’s understandably distraught and retires to the toilet to ‘punish’ herself for her failures.
While having her signature hair-tearing fit in a stall, the Casting Director stumbles upon her and tells Sarah that they might not have seen everything they needed to from her. So she’s back in, where she’s invited to recreate her self-flagellation in front of them both. She’s reluctant at first but then concedes, finally managing to stir a little interest in them.
Later, Chuck Bass calls her and invites her in for a second audition, telling her this one will be much different. And different it is as they ask her to shed her inhibitions (pants) and let herself go in the name of art. Sarah manages to pass this phase of the audition by laughing maniacally in front of a flashing light with her boobs out. Go Sarah!
But has she done enough? It would seem so as suddenly the head honcho Producer wants to meet her and Sarah gets cocky, packing in her job at Big Taters. Not wanting to spoil too much, the meeting doesn’t go according to plan for either party and Sarah is left feeling foolish and a big fat failure again. (Think casting couch).
She confides all this in Tracy but Tracy tells the group. Sarah tries to get back to reality, returning to Big Tater’s to ask for her job back, goes back to hanging out with her frenemies. Danny gets her to agree to appear in his latest amateur film. All seems like it will go back to normal, except in a moment of impulse (and on an Ecstasy high), Sarah decides she’s willing to do whatever it takes for the part of a lifetime after all.
On her second meeting with the Producer, Sarah is asked if she’s willing to shed everything she knows for a new life, one given to her by Astraeus Pictures. Is she willing to shed her body, the way she sees things, etc – all for this chance and for the chance to have her picture on billboards, in theatres, everywhere?
Sounds dreadful to me, personally but Sarah doesn’t hesitate to say yes, please. She also has to carry out a puke-inducing sex act on The Producer, don’t think she got away with it that easily. The Producer (Louis Dezseran) is a sleazy old man unfortunately, not a beautiful George Clooney-type, even though nothing makes the casting couch and subsequent exploitation of vulnerable women okay, no matter what the couch looks like, obvs.
Anyway, Sarah does what she feels she’s gotta do and wakes up in her own bed the next morning. She’s in weird pain and not feeling that well, what’s worse is that she’s not hearing back from Astraeus, which sends her into a panic. She keeps calling and hearing nothing, visiting the offices – still nothing.
In the meantime, and feeling worse every day, Sarah finally loses her job, falls out with Tracy and her other friends and generally looks horrific. She starts to lose her hair, her fingernails – everything is decaying around and within her. She receives a call back from The Producer just as she feels she’s going to finally die.
He taunts her, telling her she can either choose death or embrace the transformation they talked about. Well, can you guess what Sarah decides?
In the final segment of this film, she has a few more things she needs to take care of before she’s fully ready to embrace her new role and lifestyle but they’re killer ones, if you know what I’m saying. I’ll park this review up now but not before the Questions Section, obviously. You ready?
Will Sarah get the goddamn part after all this? Will it be worth it? Is there even a part to begin with? What will become of her friendships and of Sarah herself? Who are those weird black masked weirdos in the shadows? Who or what the fuck is an Astraeus really?
And, the main question on my lips is, why the hell would anyone want to be famous?
Hm. This is an interesting one. I mean, the concept was fresher than your average and I liked it for that. It was atmospheric and not too horribly acted. I like the film within a film devise, even if we never quite make it onto a movie set.
In places this could have been quicker paced but the lead up to Sarah giving it all up for the part of a lifetime is otherwise fine and the final bloody horror of what she has to do is fantastically gory. There’s some delightful vengeance in the horror scenes.
And the fact that by the end, I felt sorry for the people around Sarah says something, I guess, even though most of the characters are pretty 2D. I felt particularly for Tracy, who genuinely seem to care for Sarah’s welfare, despite her blabbermouth tendencies. Even horrible Erin doesn’t deserve her gruesome demise, even though it is satisfying AF.
One scene is absolutely horrifying (and brilliant) – and you’ll probably know it when you see it.
I actually didn’t really like or sympathise with Sarah that much. She starts out quite insipid and then just plods along on her solo mission like a bit of a wet wipe. Sure, she goes all out in the bloody climax but I think I would like to have rooted for her a little more.
All in all, I enjoyed this one. I was also able to convince G to watch with me, which is nice. He wasn’t such a fan but does think the ending saved it. So there’s his view.
My Rating: 3.5/5 (4 for the idea but 3.5 for the execution).