JULIA’S EYES aka LOS OJOS DE JULIA (2010)
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Julia’s Eyes is an occasionally effective and nicely photographed movie that tries to be a combination of Italian Giallo and Hitchcockian thriller, but doesn’t quite succeed at either. Eyes is the story of Julia (The Orphanage’s Belén Rueda) a woman with a degenerative sight condition who is investigating the suicide of her twin sister, who was also afflicted. What follows is a somewhat convoluted tale as Julia, with her rapidly diminishing sight, tries to track down an almost phantom like character who she feels is responsible for her sister’s death.
There are some very effective scenes in this Spanish thriller especially the spooky opening scene and the climactic confrontation, but there are a lot of slow spots in between and some of director and co-writer Guillem Morales’ ideas and plot directions border on the silly. Morales shows potential to be a good director, there is some nice atmosphere and everything is well framed and shot. There are some solid scenes of tension and he also gets good performances from his cast, especially from leading lady Rueda. Morales just needs to rein his scripts in a bit and try to not let his story stray outside of what is necessary to tell his tale. The flick feels about 10-15 minutes too long with some scenes playing out far longer than they seem like they need to. Perhaps at a tighter 90 minutes, Julia’s Eyes would have been more of the thriller he was going for.
Julia’s Eyes is produced by Guillermo del Toro and is still worth a look despite it’s flaws. Guillem Morales has worked only sporadically since, despite showing potential here, while ironically, co-writer Oriol Paulo has gone on to have a successful career as a writer and director.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) eyes
THE ORPHANAGE (2007)
First off the success of this date movie depends on your date’s tolerance for reading subtitles as The Orphanage is not available dubbed. I prefer to see a movie in it’s original language, but it’s sadly not everyone’s cup of tea. If they are OK with that, this is definitely a good movie to share with your horror loving honey…
The Orphanage is a Guillermo del Toro produced Spanish thriller that tells the story of a woman named Laura (Belén Rueda) who, with her husband Carlos (Fernanado Cayo) and adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep), plans to re-open the orphanage where she lived as a child for use as a center to care for children with disabilities. Upon moving in to restore the building, Simón, who is HIV positive, starts to see and talk to a little masked boy named Tomás as well as other children. This and other strange occurrences begin to plague the family until Simón suddenly and mysteriously disappears at a party. Time drags on with their son missing and the unexplained occurrences continuing and Carlos begins to give up hope. Now a heartbroken Laura becomes desperate to solve the mystery of her son’s disappearance by investigating the orphanage’s history, including the involvement of a strange social worker (Montserrat Carulla) and this mysterious child Tomás, whom she is certain is tied to the vanishing of her son. What she finds may be a nightmare as terrible as the one she’s living now and whose effects might still haunt the halls of this old building.
Orphanage is an atmospheric, scary and suspenseful mystery/chiller and a wonderful return to the type of film that delivers the goods without CGI or excessive gore. Under the direction of J.A. Bayona, Orphanage is a visually sumptuous haunted house movie that uses atmosphere and emotion to carry the story of a couple thrust into not only a parents’ worst nightmare, but a mystery involving the fate of the children that used to live in what now is their home. Sometimes finding the truth can take you places you don’t want to go. If you like goose bump inducing chills with a healthy dose of mystery, then this Spanish haunted house flick is for you.
Orphanage gives our movie date night a film that has a strong mystery to keep us guessing, plenty of things going bump in the night and an emotional story with a couple at it’s center for both participants in your date to identify and sympathize with… that equals a strong 3 and 1/2 on the Date-O-Meter!