Julia’s Eyes is the new horror/thriller from imagination master Guillermo del Toro who is attached in a producer capacity, the same way he was for The Orphanage. With this in mind I entered into this film hoping it to be an atmospheric creepy tale with splashes of imagination. What I got was Julia’s Eyes. The film follows the story of Julia (Rueda) whose blind sister has just committed suicide; only Julia refuses to believe that the suicide was unassisted. Whilst searching for the truth behind her sisters death Julia also starts to lose her vision and perhaps her sanity.
The biggest problem I have with the film is that it shifts in tone frequently throughout the film. The film begins with scared whispers of a mysterious invisible man who only moves in the shadows, it sets up an interesting villain and draws the audience in but soon this is forgotten. Next we are given what feels like a 20 minute love story in which Julia is coping with her carer as she is getting used to be being blind, not a poor sequence at all but it really doesn’t flow with what we saw in the first half of the film. After this the movie just dissolves into a typical slasher flick with plot twists and holes that could rival Scream 3 for how inane they are. The film was at its best when it was being creepy at the beginning, the pay off offers gives us very little of what the film sets up. Perhaps if it had stuck to being a little more fantastical than going into a real world killer it would have held my interest more.
The direction on this film is exceptional; Guillem Morales has a real talent on how to create tension and has a really unique eye when representing the loneliness that being blind brings. When Julia goes blind we never see another characters face, only hers, everyone else’s is out of shot or blocked by another object, in a novice’s hands this technique might come off as comedic (like the Austin Powers in the Spy Who Shagged Me gag in which various items obscure Mike Myers penis from being seen) but it is done so subtly here that it was barely noticeable when it first arrived on screen, it was a fine way to represent alienation and for that the film deserves credit. Sadly as a screenwriter Morales offers very little, we care next to nothing for the characters in the movie (apart from a little bit for Julia), and as stated before, the film never seems to know exactly where it wants to go, with the ending completely going off the boil.
The film is not great, it’s a messy picture that has no real memorable characters, plot or ending, as a horror movie it’s not scary and as a thriller it’s not thrilling. I will admit that I covered my eyes in fear at one point due to a needle being inserted into someone’s eyeball but this is due to a crippling fear of anything touching my own eyeball. Guillem Morales is clearly a director we should all watch out for as he was able to bring some style to picture but was unfortunately unable to wrangle a tone for the film to stay in. The final act of this film is a joke with a lot of moment feeling far more comedic than one imagines they were intended to. It’s definitely an interesting debut feature, but you would hope for something more when a producer like del Toro is attached.