Julia's Eyes (2011) – Review

Julia's Eyes offers a refreshing take on the horror genre...

Let’s get one thing out of the way – this film is being mis-sold. The trailer presents it as a sub-Insiduous horror film about a ghostly man when in fact it is a slightly muddled (but always stylish) horror-thriller which aspires to be a cut above the usual mess. This could be because the market for rubbish jumpy horror far outweighs the market for intense foreign language thrillers, but it is a shame, nonetheless. This film deserves better than the audience who will no doubt be drawn in by its jumpy trailer, and who will leave confused and underwhelmed.

Julia’s Eyes is about a woman, the eponymous Julia, whose sister kills herself. She soon discovers that maybe all is not what it seems, and finds herself drawn into a mystery that continues to unravel, almost to an absurd degree, for the duration of the film. The worst thing about this film is its reliance on tedious horror clichés that do little to dispel the notion that it is just another stupid horror film. Sometimes it feels like there are two directors – for every genuine stylistic innovation, there are two tired horror clichés.

To take an example, there is a large portion of the film in which, for one reason or another, Julia’s eyes are bandaged (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s on the poster). For as long as Julia’s eyes are bandaged, the audience doesn’t see a single human face. It’s a very subtle effect that manifests itself in quite a natural way – faces are either facing away from the camera or just out of shot – and would probably be lost on a large portion of the audience, but in a strange way it gives the viewer a small indication of what it must be like to never be able to use the facial recognition that we rely on day to day. It lends a sense of unease to the unfolding events that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. But, for this innovation, Julia spends the last half of the film basically in quite a short night-dress, the camera always managing to find it’s focus on her heaving cleavage. It’s like the film-makers wanted to make something vital and new, but lost faith in themselves and resorted to banal cliché.

These criticisms aside, the film is by no means bad and is in fact much better than you might expect. The story is difficult to follow and there is the occasional leap in logic but overall, if you suspend your disbelief perhaps a little bit more than normal, the film is an entertaining, scintillating watch, with its fair share of tension and evocative music, and is prime to be snapped up for a pointless American remake.

Best scene: The one with the eye… you’ll know it when you see it.

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