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Jonathan Stryker (Facebook / Twitter)

Mar 4, 2012 - 6:00:00 AM

You have to hand it to the Spanish.  They know how to make creepy and effective thrillers.  Some of the most notable Spanish/Mexican thrillers consist of THE FINISHING SCHOOL (1969), TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971), THE HOUSE IN THE FOG (1972), THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974) and WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976). The latest addition to this genre is JULIA'S EYES which features Belen Rueda who also starred in THE ORPHANAGE (2007).  Here she appears in dual roles as identical twin sisters who are both suffering from an ocular abnormality that is causing them to both slowly going blind. 

Sara (Rueda) is taunted by an off-screen person and is forced to commit suicide in a dank basement. Her sister Julia (Rueda) senses that something is wrong at the moment of her sister's death and rushes to her house with her husband Isaac (Llu??s Homar) and is shocked to learn of Sara's fate. Julia finds it impossible to fathom that Sara would have taken her own life (wouldn't you if someone made you listen to Dusty Springfield's 'The Look of Love'?).  Sara was going blind and Julia is convinced that the truth is out there in plain sight. She only has to find it. This is made difficult by the killer who has a nasty habit of popping up wherever Julia is, especially in a creepy sequence where she makes her way to the Baumann Centre for the Blind thanks to a tip from Sara's blind neighbor Soledad and stumbles upon a conversation on several blind women in the locker room.

The women, whose other senses are much more acute due to their lack of sight, immediately pick up on her presence, as well as the killer who is right behind her. In an effort to find out his identity, Julia chases him through several dark corridors but to no avail.  Stressed out and frightened, Julia comes dangerously close to losing her sight as well. 

Returning to Sara's house, Julia finds a key and a receipt for Sara's stay at a hotel.  She and Isaac go there and Isaac tries to locate a surveillance tape of the parking lot in the hopes of finding out where Sara went.  At this point, Isaac himself goes missing, and the parking garage is plunged into darkness just as Julia approaches the night watchman in the hopes of finding out where Isaac is. It is obvious at this point that the killer is still one step ahead of Julia. To divulge any more of the plot would ruin a memorable cinematic experience.

JULIA'S EYES, while an accomplished film, does look a bit familiar to audience's eyes as well; its plot devices are attributed to Alfred Hitchcock (REAR WINDOW from 1954) and Dario Argento (OPERA from 1987), particularly the latter with its fascination with all things ocular. Belen Rueda is excellent as the twins and newcomer director Guillem Morales stages some of the scenes with the same directorial flair as Sergio Martino.  There is something to be said, however, about the director's depiction of blind people in this film as they always seem to come off as malevolent and creepy, especially those seen with just pale, white eyes and no glasses to mask them.  I don't believe this to be deliberate, intentional, or even malicious, it's just an observation. 

If the film feels derivative at times, that's because it is, but to be fair it's very difficult in today's horror environment to make something completely and totally original.  JULIE'S EYES is long on style but not so much on substance, however fans of the genre will still find much to enjoy here.  The performances by all of those involved are quite good and the cinematography does an admirable job of masking the killer's identity from the audience. 

Jonathan Stryker and actress Belen Rueda at a 2007 screening of THE ORPHANAGE.

Click here to order JULIA'S EYES from  This DVD contains trailers for THE SILENT HOUSE, KIDNAPPED, ST. NICK, and SPIDERHOLE. 


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