As a true long time horror fan, looking to Hollywood for a quality product recently has become a frustrating exercise. Lame brained remakes of classics, gorno and DTV rape-fantasy flicks seem to dominate, so it's often foreign films that provide the most original and entertaining output. Till now Japan (Ringu, A Tale of Two Sisters) and Spain (REC, The Orphanage, even Pan's Labyrinth) have been a safe-haven of entertaining, original and downright scary products; as horror should be. Two Eyes Staring is Holland's attempt to break in to this international new wave horror and shows early promise only to almost throw it all away in the final act.
Director Elbert van Stein takes the typical Hollywood horror cliche of the eerie,creaky old mansion house and attempts to fuse it with J-Horror's creepy little girl ghost conceit. Throw in a bit of genre-bending and he almost, almost, comes up with a fresh spin on things that works.
Christine and Paul are a typical working class family who inherit the creepy mansion from Christine's recently dead estranged mother. Shortly after moving in strange things start occurring involving their nine year old daughter which result in a series of dark revelations which may or may not be all they seem.
Two Eyes Staring opens strong, it is nicely shot, building up deliberately slowly and full of ominous piano music, spooky, shadowy corners and red herrings. But as the director is inevitably forced to start showing his hand, things start to go a little off the rails. It almost seems as if van Stein is so busy trying to keep his audience guessing he fails to notice obvious horror howler cliches slipping through (a furry pet, deliberately unconvincing character reactions) which cause unnecessary distractions and dilute the impact of the finale somewhat.
Taken as a whole Two Eyes Staring is a satisfying enough movie, it's just a shame that given a few more drafts to tighten up the ending and remove the most obvious cliches it could have been so much better.
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