Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: Julia's Eyes

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Belen Rueda gives an energetic performance. Photo / Supplied
Belen Rueda gives an energetic performance. Photo / Supplied

This Guillermo Del Toro-produced title is the latest in a wave of flicks giving Spanish horror films a good name for Gothic style and dark thrills.

Julia's Eyes certainly delivers quite the chilling creepfest with its story of the title character ( Rueda), who, suffering from failing eyesight investigates the supposed suicide of her twin sister Sara (Rueda again) who had the same degener ative condition.
It certainly comes with gloomy suspense to spare and attempts to say something about love being, well, blind with the relationship between Julia and her psychologist husband Isaac (Homar).

He, while remaining supportive of his wife and her seemingly in curable condition, becomes increasingly frustrated by her need to prove Sara's death was murder despite all the evidence indicating it was self-inflicted.

During Julia's one-woman inves tigation director Morales has some fiendishly inventive ways of using Julia's ocular deficiencies - which become more pronounced when she is under stress - to rack up the sense of peril.

A scene where Julia finds herself the only sighted woman in a chang ing room of a gym which Sara attended is certainly memorable for the voyeuristic uneasiness it creates.

That said, the movie's first half has too many protracted talky scenes that only serve to drag out a movie that is at least 30 minutes too long.. And the hysterical final reels descend into splattery madness as Julia, now recovering from an eye operation but forbidden to remove the bandages, finds she is now the hunted rather than the hunter of Sara's supposed killer.

But Rueda's strident engaging performance brings with it enough energy to sustain Julia as the centre of the film throughout.

And though you can see why Del Toro was happy to add his name to the poster, most of this feels less like one of his early films than a modern Spanish spin on the Hitchcock-derived 70s and early 80s films of Brian De Palma.

If they were ever guilty pleasures, then this comes recommended. Best see it before any American remake, or sequels working their way through the rest of Julia's anatomy.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cast: Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Julia Gutierrez Caba
Director: Guillem Morales
Rating: R16 (horror scenes & violence)
Running time: 117 mins
Verdict: Edgy stylish Spanish splatter


- NZ Herald

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