M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Last month, counted down my favorite horror films from my first year of reviewing. Now it’s on to Year Two which began officially on October 1, 2011 and went through September 30, 2012. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2011 and September 30, 2012 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on December 20, 2011 and available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!

JULIA’S EYES (2010)

aka LOS OJOS DE JULIA, LOST EYES, THE EYES OF JULIA
Directed by Guillem Morales
Written by Guillem Morales, Oriol Paulo
Starring Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella, Joan Dalmau, Julia Gutiérrez Caba, Boris Ruiz, Dani Codina, Andrea Hermosa, Daniel Grao, Pere Ventura, Oscar Foronda, Clara Segura, Cata Munar, Laura Barba, Mia Esteve, Bernat Muñoz, Silvia de Litrán, Jordi Llordella

Playing out like a Giallo of old mashed with a bit of modern shock and gore, JULIA’S EYES is definitely a unique blend of terror from producers of THE ORPHANAGE and films by Guillermo Del Toro. This was back when Guillermo could do no wrong and seemed to have a firm grip on what true terror was (unlike the grip that seemed to have loosened as the budgets of his films grew). Though the bulk of JULIA’S EYES feel more like a thriller than an actual horror film, the last half hour or so makes up with the horror big time.

After the apparent suicide of her twin sister Sara, Julia (both played by Belén Rueda) has a feeling that there is more to her death than what seems. With her lover Isaac (Lluis Homar), Julia goes to Sara’s home to investigate her death—hampered by her own failing eyesight which seems to be getting worse as the days go on. Meanwhile, a suspicious and shadowy man seems to be stalking Julia and Isaac. All leads to a diabolical scheme of control and obsession. As her sight leaves her completely, Julia gets a new procedure which hopefully cure her of her blindness, but bandaged, blind, and weak, Julia is all the more susceptible to the killer’s perverted machinations.

JULIA’S EYES is almost two movies in one. The first is a tale of complex relationships, betrayal, and redemption. It moves at a sophisticated and deliberate pace—a pace that might be seen as somewhat boring to some looking for something more bloody or horrific. The high drama at play in the first hour might be a turn off for some, but those who stick with the film will be treated to quite a gruesome and horrific end. The film does start out in a manner that reminded me of the more subtle Giallo works like Argento’s CAT O’ NINE TALES with its blind protagonist, the inner psychological turmoil of Marino’s ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, or even DePalma’s DRESSED TO KILL, with a crime, a witness, and a mystery clearly presented in the early moments. And while it is a Giallo tradition to have over the top murder set pieces and such, none of that really happens until the truly gonzo ending.

This makes JULIA’S EYES a rather uneven film as the latter portion, after being lulled with subtlety in the first hour of suspense and relational drama, turns into a grisly and over the top gore-fest. With some gnarly murders and some over the top gore (including a needle to the eyeball scene that I can never unsee), JULIA’S EYES also dives deep into psychological horror as the killer’s M.O. is truly perverse and demented. Seeing the killer’s own psychological defects being boomeranged back on himself is both satisfying and harrowing. I found experiencing JULIA’S EYES in its one sitting with a patient hand far away from the Fast-forward-finger is the best way to enjoy this film. I did get distracted a bit during the over the top lovey-dovey scenes between Julia and Isaac, but found that hour essential in the investment that is established for the horrifying moments towards the end.

This is a weird one. I loved the way the whole thing played out, but must admit that it was a little bit of a chore to get through that first hour. While the acting may be somewhat soap-operatic, both Belén Rueda and Lluis Homar are wonderful to watch. Rueda shows a softer side in the earlier moments, acting like an amateur sleuth and a gentle flower throughout the first hour, but it is believable when she summons the gumption to take on her attacker in the latter portions. Those who persevere through the slower scenes are in for some absolutely terrifying moments of toe-curling suspense towards the end. Stick with this one. It’s definitely worth it.


THE 2011-2012 COUNTDOWN!


#25 – JULIA’S EYES
#26 – MOTHER’S DAY
#27 – EL PARAMO (THE SQUAD)
#28 – INBRED
#29 – THE SLEEPER
#30 – FATHER’S DAY
#31 – THE MOTH DIARIES


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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