The Movie Waffler New to Shudder - CRYSTAL EYES | The Movie Waffler

New to Shudder - CRYSTAL EYES

crystal eyes review
Following the death of a supermodel, those connected with a fashion magazine are targeted by a masked killer.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano

Starring: Silvia Montanari, Anahí Politi, Erika Boveri, Claudio Armesto

crystal eyes poster

Italy's giallo thrillers often used the world of fashion as a backdrop for their bloodshed. Movies like Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace, Andrea Bianchi's Strip Nude for Your Killer and Carlo Vanzina's Nothing Underneath all featured supermodels, designers, make-up artists and assorted hangers-on butchered by mysterious killers. It's no surprise that such filmmakers would choose the fashion industry as a setting, as it's a world populated by beautiful women where, like the giallo genre itself, style is paramount. It's also an industry known for its competitiveness - if anyone is going to commit murder to get ahead, it's a supermodel!

Argentinian writer/directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano pay affectionate if superficial tribute to fashion-set gialli with their nostalgic thriller Crystal Eyes. What distinguishes this South American pastiche from the Italian movies it's lovingly paying tribute to is its plot structure. Gialli are notoriously impossible to follow, with complex plots that more often than not make no logical sense under any sort of scrutiny. Crystal Eyes on the other hand, has a plot so simplistic it barely exists.

crystal eyes review

It's 1980s Buenos Aires, and during a fashion show arranged by magazine Attila, troublesome model Alexis Carpenter (Camila Pizzo) gets coked off her (no doubt heavily insured) tits and throws a steaming cup of coffee in the face of her make-up artist before storming out onto the catwalk where she knocks back a bottle of wine in front of the shocked onlookers. Unluckily for her, the wine spills down into the electrics beneath, resulting in one barbecued bimbo.

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Several months later, newcomer Eva (Anahí Politi) hopes to take the place of the late Alexis and become Attila's next cover girl. Auditions are arranged for midnight, but in the intervening hours, those connected with Attila are killed off one by one by a figure that resembles a fashion mannequin come to life.

crystal eyes review

As performed by Issis Trash, who also doubles as production designer here, the killer mannequin, credited as 'La Silueta', represents both the film's strengths and flaws. With its dead eyes, it makes for a genuinely creepy presence, but the filmmakers insist on mining it for comedy with its exaggerated, almost Chucky-like movements. Endelman and Montejano seem clearly in love with giallo, but they don't seem to have any confidence in the genre's ability to be taken seriously. Too often the film is derailed by sub-Almodovar levels of uniquely latin camp.

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It's a shame, as had the duo taken this seriously, they may have delivered a modern giallo on the level of Yann Gonzalez's Knife + Heart, a love letter to the genre that played its thrills with a straight face. Everything is in place here, thanks to Trash's production design, the neon-soaked cinematography of Cecilia Casas and Vanina Gottardi, and a pounding synth score by Pablo Fuu that incorporates a couple of cheesy but undeniably catchy '80s evoking pop numbers.

crystal eyes review

Fuu's score ultimately becomes overbearing however, as it plays incessantly over every scene, and the film veers close to becoming an extended music promo along the lines of the recent French sci-fi offering Blood Machines.

After we've initially been drawn in by the film's well-tailored retro aesthetic, we soon figure out that Crystal Eyes has little else to offer. The kills are bland and uninventive, arguably the greatest crime for any movie that seeks to evoke gialli, and practically no effort has been made to deliver a narrative we can invest in beyond its surface sheen. Like the vacuous models that populate its story, Crystal Eyes looks fantastic but there's not a lot going on beneath its pretty exterior.

Crystal Eyes is on Shudder UK now.