It’s almost Christmas, which means it’s time for all kinds of great year-end countdowns. Christmas means spending time with loved ones, getting hammered, and binge-watching movies and television, at least for me. With a new year and lots of new disgusting, demented content around the corner, it’s time for Dark Side Cinema’s Top Five of 2014. These are the five most depraved, disturbing bits of film that I’ve enjoyed and/or endured that came out this year. To be included in this list, the film had to have a 2014 U.S. release date and fit the general Dark Side Cinema criteria. In addition to being disturbing, each of these films offers up a little something extra, a Christmas present for one type of disturbing cinema fan or another.
The List So Far:
2) Starry Eyes
Without further ado, here is Dark Side Cinema’s Disturbing Movies of the Year, Number Two:
Unrated – United States
Body horror is the one subgenre that can always get me squirming in my seat. Whether it’s something like Eli Roth’s super-gross Cabin Fever or just about anything David Cronenberg has made, body horror is always heavy on disturbing content. Starry Eyes, a recent Kickstarter success story, is no different. The film was heavily promoted by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and the nastiest book ever, Haunted, so it’s really no surprise that this flick is nasty.
Starry Eyes tells the story of Sarah (Alex Essoe), a young waitress in L.A. trying to make it as an actress. She has a habit of pulling her hair out to punish herself after bad auditions, which attracts the interest of two of the weirdest interviewers in existence. One is an older woman reminiscent of the Frau character in Austin Powers, the other is a young man trying so hard to be Patrick Bateman from American Psycho that it’s actually funny.
So Sarah gets a callback for an even weirder interview, then another callback to meet the producer of the flick. He tries to feel her up, she freaks out and leaves, and her dreams are shattered. Of course, we know she’s going to change her mind and go back to creepy producer, because otherwise there would be no movie. She crawls back to him, does some degrading things, and then the movie takes off. The problem is that a very large chunk of the movie’s running time has already passed by now, because this film is sloooooow.
Once Sarah does the deed, the transformation begins and things start to get interesting. The body horror aspect goes into high gear as Sarah’s body begins to change. There are several disgusting gags, but there is one scene in a bathtub that ups the ante quite a bit. I haven’t seen anything quite that gross since the witch barfing maggots all over someone in Sam Raimi’s Take Me to Hell. (That was my favorite part of that movie, by the way.)
Starry Eyes is a bit all over the place. It starts out as this slow burn drama about a girl and her crappy friends and her crappy job, evolves into body horror, then into a really fantastic slasher flick for about ten minutes, and then it all ends with a whole bunch of Satanic cult weirdness. It feels like a student film in places with regards to the writing, but the production value is pretty damn good and keeps things from falling apart. When the movie wants to be pretty, it is extremely pretty. When it wants to be gross or scary, it’s pretty damn good at that too.
There are some funny bits in the beginning revolving around Sarah and her awful job working as a Big Taters girl. It’s like Hooters but with tater tots. Her pants even have potatoes all over them. It’s atrocious and hilarious.
I wish that Starry Eyes was a more cohesive movie with better pacing. There is so much good stuff in here, it’s just smashed in sort of haphazardly toward the ending. The acting ranges from great (Ms. Essoe herself) to not-so-great (the aforementioned Diet Bateman). The final twenty minutes or so are fun and ultimately extremely entertaining; I just wish the film hadn’t been quite so slow to get there. With a 98-minute runtime, it should never feel plodding, but it does.
The last twenty minutes do earn it a spot on this list, however, because they are foul. One woman passed out during the finale at the New York City premiere, which is pretty high praise for this kind of flick.
Violence: 8/10. Blood and guts galore once you get to it!
Sex: 2/10. Creepy old man satanic blowjob. Yay.
Entertainment value: 4/10 Again, the last 20 minutes are a 9/10, but the rest is very slow.
This movie is for: Patient gorehounds, arthouse fans, anyone who wants to be super grossed out.
Overall rating: 5/10 I think I’m going to go watch the last twenty minutes again… for reasons.