Starry EyesDirectors: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch

Cast: Alex Essoe, Noah Segan, Pat Healy, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter

Running Time: 98 minutes

Certificate: 18

Just how far would you go to achieve your dreams? This is a question that has been asked countless times across the centuries with one of the earliest tales being that of Faust. Since then the premise of making a deal with the devil to achieve the heart’s greatest desire has appeared many times over, but never quite like this…

Newcomer Alex Essoe gives a star-making turn as Sarah Walker, a resident of Los Angeles and fast-food waitress who has the usual dreams of being a famous actress. Living within an apartment building full of other actors Sarah feels like her peers pity her. She is riddled with an unhealthy mix of both incredible self-belief and crippling self-doubt. The conflicting sides of her psyche have several wince-inducing bouts as her frustrations lead her to literally pull her hair out.

Having yet to get a role, and wanting to prove that she is better than those around her, especially the exceptionally bitchy Erin, she dives headfirst into an audition with the enigmatic Astraeus Pictures for horror movie The Silver Scream. Hounded by her determination to succeed, Sarah overlooks the rather odd set-ups of the job and finds herself faced with the ultimate casting couch. Anyone with a dream will relate to Sarah’s desperate determination. The film deals with desperation, paranoia and the most deadly of desires, ambition, and showcases the extreme lengths that the soul will go to to reach that ultimate goal of perfection.

In a strange parallel, young actress Essoe seems to have found her very own gateway part. Her performance is the perfect showreel, showcasing an incredible range missing from most current scream queens. Effortlessly able to switch from angry and angst ridden to pageant queen polite, you completely emphasise with her ordeal. Essoe makes you feel Sarah’s plight every step of the way. Even when her choices take her down a bleak pathway, the audience can’t help but root for her.

Los Angeles has long been seen as the land where dreams come true – how many films and television shows have you watched wherein the protagonist has arrived and had fame and fortune thrust upon them? The reality of the city is that it is riddled with victims who believe the Hollywood hype. Directors Kolsch and Widmeyer aren’t afraid to show the un-sugarcoated version of the Hollywood lifestyle. Gone are the expected glorifying shots of sunshine and Hollywood signs, replaced with a murky and misty visual populated with dilapidated housing and seedy side streets.

The film’s first portion is very much a psychological drama without a drop of corn syrup in sight. The slow pace though is actually building-up to a glorious tumble down the gore-filled rabbit-hole. The spiral starts with a very bad bathroom and is followed with an even worse bad bathroom. Ladies especially may find these scenes rather unsettling. As Sarah finds herself dying to ascend, the story takes a rather graphic body-horror turn. Think THE FLY and you’re on the right lines. Better still STARRY EYES is just as good, if not better, on the second viewing.

STARRY EYES is not for the faint of heart. Those brave enough to endure will be treated to a wonderful Faustian story with a body horror spin. Think Melrose Place: The Cronenberg years.

[usr=4] STARRY EYES is out to buy on DVD from Monday 16th March.