Have you ever wanted to see a horror film that features fabulous fashion, stylized over-the-top acting, and passes the Bechdel Test? If so, I have some great news for you (conversely, if this doesn’t appeal to you, I encourage you to reexamine your priorities).
The Giallo-inspired horror film CRYSTAL EYES is a gaudy and melodramatic arthouse experience, wrapped up with a glitter-and-gore bow…and I loved every second of it. Here’s the wild ride you’re in for if (when) you watch it:
In 1984, top Argentinian supermodel Alexis Carpenter tragically dies on the runway during a fashion show—she’s accidentally set on fire after verbally abusing and assaulting other models and the makeup artist right before she headlines, and because of the runway design, no one in the audience is able to save her; they all watch helplessly as the primadonna burns to death.
One year later, Buenos Aires’ most important fashion magazines (think Vogue) is organizing a photo shoot to honor the late Alexis and her legacy on the anniversary of her death. But on the night before the shoot, Alexis’ dresses go missing…and soon the magazine staff and models chosen to channel her for the issue are picked off one by one by a knife-wielding assailant with a sleek silhouette.
There are so many great things about CRYSTAL EYES (MIRADA DE CRISTAL in the original Spanish language), but let’s start with the basics. With a backdrop of the fashion industry of the 1980s, we know going in that the film will be visually interesting at the very least. And it is, of course—the costumes and set design in this film are top-notch. But the cinematography takes CRYSTAL EYES to the next level; the film was originally released in 2017 (in Argentina), but because of the style of the film (or perhaps the post-production effects), it really feels like you’re watching an old VHS tape you found in your parents’ basement. I say that in the best way—the cinematography was probably my favorite part of the movie.
Then we have the mostly-female cast of characters. I mentioned before that CRYSTAL EYES passes the Bechdel Test (there must be at least two named female characters, they must talk to each other, and they must talk to each other about something other than a man). The primary reason it passes the test is because the most important players in the film are women: the editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine is a woman, the staff and models are mostly women, and the medical staff at the end of the film (no spoilers here) are, you guessed it, women. This alone is refreshing, even in the horror genre where women often dominate the screen. But it’s even more refreshing because not all of the women in the film are necessarily “good”. Some of them are career-obsessed and fame-hungry, some are antagonistic. And all of them are fully fleshed-out.
There are men in the cast, but for the most part and for the vast majority of the film, it’s the women who take center stage.
Finally, we have the special effects, which were nothing short of fantastic. Not because they were super realistic—but rather because they weren’t. The violence was stylized in a way that was evocative of 80s horror slashers (you’ll know it when you see it) and the blood was practically neon-colored. And it just works.
CRYSTAL EYES was written and directed by Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano. It stars Silvia Montanari, Anahí Politi, Erika Boveri, Valeria Giorcelli, Camila Pizzo, Agustina De Rosal, Victoria Del Rosal, Diego Benedetto, and Claudio Armesto.
This is not a film you want to sleep on. It may even gain cult status…
The stylish slasher CRYSTAL EYES will be arriving on the Arrow Video Channel on September 1, 2020.