There are all sorts of movies about life in Hollywood. Three of my favorites are Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “All About Eve“, Robert Altman‘s “The Player” and David Lynch‘s “Mulholland Drive“. All take a slightly different angle on the morally questionable choices people make in order to achieve fame and fortune.
This past Saturday I caught another take on the journey to stardom with Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer‘s “Starry Eyes” which played at the Boston Underground Film Festival. And won the Director’s Choice Award for Best Feature.
Viewied through the lens of the horror genre they cut straight to the chase with a Faustian tale of a young actress who wants to be a star in a horror movie. A little less ambitious than Faust but at least she had goals.
Alex Essoe plays Sarah a struggling actress surrounded by contemporaries with equal ambitions. Sarah works hard at her craft taking classes and submitting to as many auditions as possibly. Her struggling artist friends seem to take their artistic pursuits less seriously as we see them partying more doing anything else.
Sarah takes her work as an actress seriously that she punishes herself when she fails by literally pulling her own hair out. The metaphor of frustration brought to life. And a practice that catches the eyes of a cult with the ultimate power to help her achieve her goal. To be a star in a horror movie.
Like the cautionary tale of Faust this is a cautionary tale of unbridled ambition which moved well beyond the borders of Hollywood. There is this incredible need in society today to be noticed as something special. Psychologists claim that selfies are linked to mental illness. Addictions to social media sites is on the rise based on neediness. Self help books are so in demand that the New York Times Best Sellers List has a separate list for them. The theme in “Starry Eyes” is universal. It’s more than a film about Hollywood.
Essoe was brilliant as Sarah a very demanding role that transforms from a sweet aspiring actress to a person with murderous ambitions.
Kolsch and Widmyer’s direction also takes a nod to classic 70’s and 80’s cult films in style and blend it very well with the violent darkness of today’s best horror movies.
Keep an eye out for this one. You don’t want to miss it.