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DIRECTED BY: Andreas Marawell
FEATURING: Malin Saine, Luna Dvil, Karin Engman
PLOT: Nina is rumoured to be dead; her sister Anna doesn’t believe it and investigates in dreams, while the other sister, Julie, investigates in the physical world.
COMMENTS: Another reviewer groused that the strip club scenes in Eyes of Dread far too often featured far too clothed dancing. While most of his other remarks were on the mark (if perhaps phrased undiplomatically), he did miss a point here: this is an artistic dance club, featured in random intervals in an artistic movie. This is evidenced by the prevalence of red and blue lens filters; thwompy, but not overpowering, sound; and the appreciable use of mirrors, alleyways, candles, and foreign accents. It’s one of those films where any given screen capture might suggest it is interesting.
It is not. A big spooky delivery of “She… went into.. a building(!). That’s where she disappeared. She disappeared there. But I can’t tell you where it is…” is as good example of the dialogue (although I did like skeazy guy’s advice to Paul the photographer: “the alpha animal, he gets all the bitches”). Much of my grousing about the dialogue might have been avoided had the filmmakers written it in the actors’ language of choice. Funneling Z-grade English-language lines through non-native speakers can make for an odd and unsettling experience.
It does not. Not in Eyes of Dread. Digging around the more charitable corners of my mind, I will remark that the camera work is sufficiently interesting, taking advantage of the undisclosed Central/Eastern European’s nook-filled density with its understated meandering. But that may be all. Unnatural phenomena typically demand a naturalistic approach: the unspeakable needs some veneer of relatability, if not necessarily believability.
I did not believe any of these characters, in spite of their painted-on earnestness. And while I don’t mind—and often can take considerable delight in—narratives that flirt with incoherence, there needs to be an “aura” to the film, that difficult-to-describe combination of elements that trap the viewer like a dream. Writer/director Andreas Marawell takes a stab at it, but relies too heavily on vague facsimiles of stuff seen in other films. He captures images handily—and it might be best if he stuck with cinematography until he can whip up a better movie formula.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY: