Blu-Ray Review: “Starry Eyes” Is A Nightmarish Tinseltown Tale

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Walk down the streets of Hollywood and you’ll see scores of attractive, wannabe actors and filmmakers serving you coffee, grub, and liquor at every corner. New to Blu-ray and DVD, Starry Eyes (98 minutes, MPI) takes that environment to the nth degree, as Tinseltown’s bottom feeding underbelly is witnessed through the desperate “eyes” of Sarah Walker (Alex Essoe, delivering a stunning performance).

Tired of waitressing at a dead end job and exasperated with her slacker friends, Walker is determined to make it in show business, even if it means sacrificing her sanity in the process. After landing a soul crunching audition from a shady production company, Walker is offered a Faustian bargain which ensures a meaty leading part.

Getting the job may be a dream come true, but Walker’s gradual mental and physical deterioration reaches horrific levels, as her benefactors’ deathly grip on her life leads to an inevitable transformation.

If you’re a fan of the David Lynch Los Angeles noir masterpiece Mulholland Falls or just love creepy, unsettling thrillers (Jonathan Snipes’ mesmerizing music score is also a highlight), Starry Eyes definitely fits the bill.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
  1. Commentary with co-directors Kevin Kolsh & Dennis Widmyer, and producer Travis Stevens.
  2. 10 Deleted Scenes (11:37) – Most of these scenes were understandably cut from the film, as the directors obviously wanted to retain the flick’s lean, 98-minute running time. Since most of the narrative deals on Sarah Walker’s perceptions of reality, there is an earthquake sequence that’s worth a look.
  3. Jonathan Snipes Music Video (2:28) – A must for audio geeks, as viewers get a peek inside Snipes’ music studio as he creates a track for the movie.
  4. Alex Essoe Audition Video (13:52) – Features Alex Essoe’s two auditions for Starry Eyes. Ironically, some of the scariest moments from the film come from Sarah Walker’s auditions, and seeing Essoe trying to land the role for her own auditions is a sight to behold (see the movie first before launching this special feature).
  5. Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery
  6. Trailer

During my interview with Alex Essoe, she talked about how she connected to Sarah Walker sans any judgement:

Starry Eyes is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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Last but not least, here’s some filmmaking advice from Starry Eyes directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer:

Exclusive: ‘Starry Eyes’ Acting Lessons With Alexandra Essoe

Credit: Jay Shaw
Credit: Jay Shaw

The blood red poster for Starry Eyes pretty much says it all, as Alexandra Essoe gives a disturbingly magnetic performance as Sarah, a Hollywood starlet who will do anything to land a promising movie role.

Starry Eyes - Alex Essoe
Starry Eyes – Alex Essoe

Echoing David Lynch’s classic Mulholland Falls and Brian De Palma’s psychological thrillers from the 1970s (Sisters, Carrie), Starry Eyes is as unsettling as the day is long, and if you love creepy, haunting journeys of the soul, Starry Eyes, which is now available on VOD and iTunes, delivers the goods.

I’ve seen a ton of this year’s awards driven performances, and though she won’t receive a huge Oscar campaign push from the major studios, Alexandra Essoe’s work in Starry Eyes is one of my favorite performances this year (she certainly gives Sissy Spacek and Jamie Lee Curtis a run for their money).

Living in the fringes of Hollywood, Sarah has “starry eyes” for A-list actresses of yesteryear, as her apartment wall is adorned with pictures of some of Tinseltown’s most alluring leading ladies. To prep for the role, Alexandra Essoe used Rita Hayworth’s iconic performance in Gilda as a form of inspiration.

Sarah, desperate to see her name in lights, makes the ultimate Faustian bargain in Tinseltown, and unfortunately landing a bigtime movie role leads to a devastating transformation.

During my sit down with Alexandra Essoe, she talked about the keys of staying in the moment as an actress:

For more info on the film, please go to StaryEyesFilm.com.

Exclusive: Alex Essoe On ‘Starry Eyes’ & Acting’s Seductive Grip

 

With Starry Eyes, Alex Essoe delivers one of this year’s most horrifying (and inspired) performances as Sarah Walker, a struggling actress who will do anything to land a sizable movie role.

Working at a dead-end, Hooters style restaurant, Sarah dreams of making it big in Hollywood, and when she gets a callback from a once prestigious production company, she may have landed a big break. Unfortunately, getting the job will require a total physical and emotional transformation for Sarah, and sometimes the bright lights of showbiz will blind the brightest of dreamers. Pat Healy (The Inkeepers) and Amanda Fuller (TV’s Last Man Standing) also star.

Alex Essoe, Starry Eyes (MPI Media Group)
Alex Essoe, Starry Eyes (MPI Media Group)

“(Sarah) doesn’t love herself enough to create boundaries,” said Essoe during our interview. “She’s looking for the industry to define her instead of already knowing who she is and telling the industry who she is.

In the video clip below Alex Essoe talks about the challenge of building her Starry Eyes character and why judging Sarah would have been a disservice to the narrative.

Starry Eyes, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, opens in theaters, OnDemand, and iTunes on November 14.

StarryEyesPoster (Facebook)