There is a disturbing trend among mainstream critics; that somehow foreign films are better even if they are more or less the same as the much maligned Hollywood product.
Julia’s Eyes is a prime example. It is your standard ‘vulnerable woman in peril after making several dumb decisions and a plot ridden with plot holes’ horror film. In previous decades this film was called ‘Blink’ and ‘Jennifer 8’. It also shares parallels with dozens of other films in which the woman under threat was not blind.
“But this one is French, and features actors in their 40s. Prep the 4 Stars printing team, and have a 5th on standby in case this film is even average!”
Well it is average, and does start out reasonably well, but ultimately Julia’s Eyes fails to capitalise on the foundations and denigrates quickly into yet another illogical film filled with inconsistencies, lazy ‘it was only a dream’ scares and gore that would be derided if it were not a foreign language – read: ‘more worthy’ – film.
Julia and Sara are sisters. Both have the same degenerative eye disease that constantly puts them in danger of losing degrees of sight. Sara was blind. Sara lived alone.
I am using past tense because after the opening moments of Julia’s Eyes Sara becomes past tense. As in dead.
But Julia cannot believe that her sister would kill herself as is reported – even though it is made clear that in recent years they were no longer close. On the basis of one song that was playing on the CD player she convinces herself that there must be more behind this. Isaac just seems to want to move on, and worries that the associated stress will not benefit Julia’s ever-deteriorating vision.
Julia’ ensuing investigation is effective in as much as there are no wasted visits or queries. Every meeting with someone provides her with one vital clue that propels her one step forward to the next person or place, where inevitably a bystander, waiter or neighbour recalls something that helps her progress to the next stage. At one point she walks into a change room and overhears several blind women openly discussing Sara, a few minutes later and a creepy man walks up to Sara and proffers information of his own that proves key.
During the process Julia learns that Sara had a man accompanying her in hew final days. Julia wants to know if it was a boyfriend why was he not present at the funeral? And why can no-one remember even the most vague details about this man even when they have seen him? One man even refers to him as ‘an invisible man …with angry eyes’.
Things take a further turn for the worst – and predictable – when Julia is left alone and vulnerable, in the home of her late sister no less. What follows from there is nothing less than Hollywood-style extremism. A mysterious key with no obvious door. Mysterious neighbour(s) who know a lot but choose to drip feed information only when the story needs it. A sudden visitor with bizarre claims (a different one to the one mentioned earlier!) and a number of phone calls and run-ins that you would think practically demand follow up at some stage or other.
If this were in Hollywood this would be panned as lazy and inconsistent, en Francais it apparently gets a free pass.
But I am here to once and for all stand up for reason, common sense and basic standards in film and say that Julia’s Eyes has been made several times before with only minor variations. This is competent stuff and boasts a couple of decent scenes and violence that is sensibly doled out in small doses so as to retain its impact.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Julia’s Eyes is just another decidedly average horror film, just one that happens to be in another language.
P.S. At one stage I wrote something down in all caps upon the introduction of a new character. It was a definitive statement about how things would turn out. It was unfortunately spot on. Julia at least was sporting bandages over her eyes at this time, but if it were that obvious to me then everyone else should’ve seen it coming too.