We all know the tale of the young actress who’s waiting to become the next big thing in Hollywood, but Starry Eyes brings a fresh(and very creepy) take to a familiar plot.
For full disclosure, I donated money to this film through GoFundMe. I liked the concept of the movie and the idea of helping it get made, but I was more interested in the signed Chuck Palahniuk audio recordings that were being offered for a certain donation level. When I saw an email that Starry Eyes was now streaming on Netflix, I was really excited to check it out. If I didn’t care for it, I wasn’t going to write a review. I did enjoy it, however, so I decided to do something about it.
Now that my little disclosure is out of the way, let me give you a quick overview of the film.
In the beginning, we meet Sarah (Alex Essoe), who is trying to break into the movie business. She has a waitressing job she hates, hangs out with young filmmakers and actresses she doesn’t seem to care for, and spends most of her time going to auditions that don’t pan out. After submitting her credentials for a movie called “The Silver Scream,” Sarah finally gets a call for an audition.
She remembers the lines and does a great job, but she doesn’t seem to impress the creepy casting agents. Sarah has a few personal issues it seems, and she takes out her frustration in the bathroom by ripping out her hair. The female casting agent is waiting in the bathroom, and tells Sarah she wants to see more of that. Sarah repeats her hair-pulling performance, and throws in a seizure for good measure. She receives a call back, but Sarah is warned this one will be a little different.
After entering a pitch black room, Sarah is asked to remove her clothes. She is obviously hesitant, but gives in to the demands. There are a bunch of flashing light from pictures being taken, and the audience bares witness to a vampire-looking Sarah during the flashes. She seems to get comfortable with the situation, and the casting agents are pleased with her work. After the photo shoot, Sarah has a chance to meet the producer to talk about the role. His intentions are less than honorable, and after he suggests that she needs to show him how much she wants the role, Sarah barges out of his office and returns home humiliated.
Even though it’s a huge step down, Sarah’s friend Danny talks to her about his script, and how he wants her to be a star in it. After a beer and a pill, Sarah watches the so-called actresses and directors hang out in a pool, and realizes the people she is hanging out with don’t have the ambition to really make their dreams come true. She gives the studio a call to get in touch with the producer, and after leaving a message, quickly receives a call back with information on where to meet the producer. Sarah quickly finds herself on her knees, and she unzips the producer’s pants to literally let evil enter her body.
Over the next few days, Sarah becomes very sick, and she actually starts to decompose. From her teeth falling out to ripping her entire fingernails off, she is literally falling apart. While she is pulling maggots out of her mouth, she hears her phone ring, and has to crawl to answer it. The producer mocks her and asks if she is not feeling well, and Sarah lets him know she is dying. The producer tells her he knows, but that if she acts like her true self, she can be reborn.
So basically, Sarah wants to be an actress, struggles to find work, hollers for a dollar and now she is turning into some dead monster.
Now, the audience constantly hears that Sarah has to show who she really is and has to be reborn to get what she wants, and by the end of the movie, it’s pretty clear who Sarah really is. In the beginning, I was rooting for her. She had a job she didn’t really like, and seemed obligated to hang out with douchebags. By the end of the movie, however, there were plenty of signs that built up to show that maybe Sarah really wasn’t that great of a person to begin with:
- Sarah ignores the rules of her jobs. While we all do that, the manager states that he has seen his fair share of young women trying to make it as a movie star, but they realize that working at a fake Hooters is what pays the bills. Sarah thinks she’s special, however, and doesn’t seem to think the rules apply to her because she is talented and going to make it.
- Sarah hasn’t paid her rent for two months. Instead of paying her rent, Sarah spends her money on acting classes and head shots. Even though she thinks she is above her roommate, she still leeches off of her.
- Sarah thinks she’s better than everyone. Sarah seems to despise the group she hangs out with, but the people she hangs out with do seem to care about her. They try to include her in group activities, but Sarah remains distant and aloof. I originally thought it was because the group was a bunch of lazy hipsters, but even Tracy (Sarah’s rival), seems to care about her when she sees Sarah injured. Sarah, however, does not seem to have a sliver of respect for anyone.
- Sarah doesn’t like seeing other people happy. While the group is always enjoying themselves, Sarah is always brooding and unhappy unless she has an audition.
- Sarah is mean spirited. When a girl falls and severely hurts herself outside of a pool, Sarah can’t help but let out a little laugh of pleasure.
- Sarah is impatient. I’m not sure exactly how long she has been trying to break into Hollywood, but she doesn’t seem to want to work her way through small projects to build up a resume. Instead, she wants immediacy, and thinks she deserves it.
- Sarah is blinded by ambition. Obviously. Even with a little resistance, she took off her clothes when asked to, even though she knew the movie didn’t call for nudity. And going back to her job and rent issue, she isn’t thinking about the actual reality of her current situation. She quits her job even before signing any contract to star in the movie.
I wouldn’t call Sarah evil to start off, but she wasn’t as sweet and innocent as she seemed at the start of the film. After Tracy wants to get Sarah to a hospital after she sees the condition she is in, Sarah wards Tracy off with a knife. The knife connects with Tracy’s face, and Sarah starts to leave the house. She quickly realizes, however, that she needs to kill the people she loathes, because that is just the type of person she really is. After taking out the entire group, Sarah is reborn at a special ceremony by the producer and his cult of monsters, and emerges hairless in the woods. Sarah now has special powers, and she lures her roommate into her bed and kills her. Sarah receives a few gifts from her new friends, and she now looks like a Hollywood star. It only took a few murders to make it happen, but hey, who’s judging?
I think Starry Eyes was really able to showcase the bad side of ambition. Sarah quickly got in over her head, and didn’t take the time to really think about her actions. She was blinded by desire, and literally sold her soul for fame and fortune. If you’re looking for ghosts and monsters to jump out from behind doors, this isn’t going to be your thing. If you want to watch a movie that is creepy as hell, engaging and will leave a lasting impression, however, than Starry Eyes is right up your alley.