May 11, 2014

Review: Los ojos de Julia [Julia's Eyes] (2010)

Spanish horror movies have been pretty good as of late. Guillermo del Toro himself is also a reason to love Spanish cinema. To be honest though, I don't really get any del Toro vibes from this movie. To me, del Toro is all about imaginative and creative designs whether that be for sets or costumes which isn't really found in Julia's Eyes at all. That's not to say that Julia's Eyes is a terrible movie or anything. It's just that with del Toro's name so prominently displayed on the poster, it's disappointing. 

Director Guillem Morales had one theatrical horror movie and a few shorts under his belt before tackling Julia's Eyes. He also is the co-writer of the script with Oriol Paulo. As a director, I believe that Morales has done a pretty good job. Camera movements are very sure and he gets pretty good mileage out of his actors. The script is where I believe there is a problem but I'll get into that.


Genre: horror, mystery, thriller
Directed by: Guillem Morales
Produced by: Juan Carlos Caro, Guillermo del Toro, Joaquín Padró, etc.
Written by: Guillem Morales, Oriol Paulo
Music by: Fernando Velázquez
Running time: 118 minutes
Production company: Antena 3 Films, Canal+ España, Catalan Film and Television, etc.
Distributed by: DeAPlaneta, Dark Light Media, IFC Films, etc.
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Budget: N/A
Box office: $12,884,923 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, Clara Segura, Julia Gutiérrez Caba, Francesc Orella, Pablo Derqui, Joan Dalmau, Hèctor Claramunt, Daniel Grao, Boris Ruiz, Víctor Benjumea, Carlos Fabregas, Dani Codina, Òscar Foronda, Laura Barba



Julia's Eyes introduces us to Julia Levin who suffers from a degenerative eye condition. She continues to lose vision in her eyes and she has a twin sister who is already blind from the same ailment. It's discovered that Julia's sister Sara is dead under mysterious circumstances and Julia wants to find out what happened. It's believed to be a suicide but she doesn't believe it. It's a race to figure out what's happened and who or what is responsible.


The biggest problem that I see with Julia's Eyes is the use of music to cover for moments that aren't scary at all. Instead of just letting these scenes go as they are, the score ramps up and desperately tries to create tension out of thin air. These attempts fail every time when there are other moments that let the scenes go organically without any music. In comparison, these scenes work a whole lot better.

The scenes where there isn't the exaggerated music usually feature the camera looking into the dark which works for me. I like not knowing what's there, fear of the unknown and all that, you know? When I did find out "what" exactly was in the dark, I have to say I was left pretty disappointed. It was a let down as far as horror movies go.

Another thing is the use of a dreaded horror trope, the jump scare. Julia's Eyes features some very ineffective jump scares that left me really unimpressed. Technically speaking, there's a lot in Julia's Eyes to like and Guillem Morales obviously knows what he's doing but the script leaves a lot to be desired.

(Spoilers) One thing I'll say is that Morales did a good job at was making the viewer see what Julia was seeing as she was going blind. Additionally, I liked how sound was really amplified after her blindness comes into effect (End Spoilers) Belén Rueda as Julia overacts maybe a teensy weensy bit but I still think she gave a pretty good performance

I feel like Julia's Eyes should never have been a horror movie. Getting rid of the dumb jump scares and toning down the music would be the first order of business. There also wouldn't be that disappointing let down once you know what's what. We'd be left with what could have been an interesting thriller. Julia's Eyes is an example of a well crafted movie but it disappoints in terms of its script. 



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