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Crystal Eyes Movie Review

Written by Rachel Knightley

Released by ToyBoys Movies

Written and directed by Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano
2018, 82 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest European Premiere on 24th August 2018

Starring:
Silvia Montanari as Lucía L'uccello
Anahí Politi as Eva Lantier
Erika Boveri as Irene del Lago
Claudio Armesto as Antón Dubois
Valeria Giorcelli as Bárbara Lager

Crystal Eyes Poster

Review:

Neo-giallo Crystal Eyes is set in Buenos Aires in 1985. It’s a year since the death of unstable supermodel Alexis Carpenter (Camila Pizzo). Alexis had thrown not only her last diva strop but a whole jug of coffee in the face of her make-up artist (Valeria Giorcelli) before a freak catwalk fire claimed her. Now fashion editor Lucia L'uccello (Silvia Montanari) wants to do a commemorative issue in honour of Alexis. All the industry claws are out for who will take the role of Alexis on the cover shoot. But Alexis’s victimisation of her colleagues in life doesn’t seem to have stopped with her death: the night before the shoot, Alexis’s dresses go missing and a strange female figure in a black trenchcoat begins slicing through the competition. Eva (Anahí Politi) looks to be the victor, and turns up for the shoot, but the editor and her staff have also disappeared. Has Eva been lured here in an elaborate revenge by Alexis? Or is the “cold doll” killer the supermodel herself, back from the dead?

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Writer-director team Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano have captured the spirit of hypnotic, dreamlike and edgy beauty of Suspiria – to which this is beautiful, intelligent and welcome homage – in the face of far greater budget constraints. And they are too busy paying homage to Mario Brava and Dario Argento to tell their own story first and foremost. Genre nods are given with the intelligence and self-control to support rather than overshadow with the weight of reference and expectation. Most importantly, they have created imagery for deaths and killers that deserve to become iconic in their own right.

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The performative nature of real backstage conversations provides a slick, realistic start to the gentle stylisation of Alexis’s world before she so abruptly leaves it. We move effortlessly from the believably agenda-driven rapport between the models and their make-up artists, where desperation to appear natural floats under every conversation. With everyone around her desperate to be seen as successful and sexy, Alexis, having reached the level the rest dream of, is visibly self-destructing and not caring who she takes along with her. Then, we move to the world Alexis has left behind, with everyone just as desperate to be seen to be living as to really live. Whether or not we suspect the killer doll to be Alexis, we get the message that fame is true life in this false world.

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There is the occasional awkward staging moment to overcome, particularly in the final act, with actors sometimes having to be more aware of where they’re stepping than who they’re stabbing. But such bumps back to reality do not spoil the ride, not least because of the excellent use of sound and location which more than make up any lost ground. In spite of these wobbly moments, there is no doubt Endelman and Montejano have put giallo back on the menu. Let’s hope they now step right off the shoulders of their heroes because if this is what they can do on a small budget with so much care, passion, style and visual and emotional intelligence, great things must be ahead.

Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Crystal Eyes Small
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