Review: Julia's Eyes (Los ojos de Julia)

Guillmero del Torro has become the go-to-guy for Spanish horror, after his involvement in such hits as Pans Labyrinth, The Orphanage and this latest feature, Julia's Eyes. Here producer, del Torro has teamed up with up-and-coming Spanish director, Giullem Morales which has proved quite an impressive combination. Julia's Eyes follows a woman slowly going blind - Julia (Belen Rueda), who is hit by the discovery of her (also blind) sister's suicide, . However, the circumstances of the death do not add up and Julia soon learns a mysterious figure was present during her sister's suicide.

I went into this film blind, excuse the pun - with only seeing the trailer beforehand. The trailer isn't a strong representation of what the film is actually about - it gives the impression the film is mostly a horror about a blind woman being tormented by a figure in her house. Although it does obviously cover this, it's feels more of a crime-thriller as it follows Julia trying to piece together her sisters mysterious death. I was slightly let down that the film wasn't as much of a horror as the trailer depicts, although that's not to say I didn't like it.

The story feels incredibly original and the concept is terrifying to anyone. Picture not having your sight, living alone and being stalked - it's not nice, is it? Morales tries to avoid playing up to too many of the conventions of the horror genre and generally succeeds at this, giving us a tense and atmospheric film from the get go. The opening scene is possibly the most chilling in the film - where we witness the sister's torment and fear at the hands of this figure, leading to her suicide. Even when the identity of this figure is eventually revealed, the film does stay largely tense and taut to the end.

Spanish Chelsea Handler look-a-like, Belen Rueda, is tremendous - she features in almost every scene and carries the film phenomenally. She displays great range and seeing her character cope through blindness and grief is emotive and believable. The supporting performances vary - some relatively strong (Lluis Homar as Julia's husband) to weaker, less believable performances (Pablo Derqui as Julia's carer).

Despite some successful scares towards the start of the film, these slowly grind to a halt - becoming less effective towards the end of the film where it becomes a straight forward thriller with a few nasty twists (think eyeballs being injected...)

Julia's Eyes is certainly worth a watch, and I'm glad I've seen it:  an interesting concept, atmospheric direction and a strong lead performance are amongst the film's best features - however the lack of real horror and some weaker performances drag it down slightly.

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