Crystal Eyes

Director: Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano

Writers: Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano

Cast: Anahi Politi, Camila Pizzo, Silvia Montanari, Victoria Del Rosal, Augustina Del Rosal

Cert: 15

Running time: 82mins

Year: 2017


 


What’s the story: In mid-80s Buenos Aires, on the anniversary of a fashion model’s fiery death during a photoshoot, magazine staff members begin disappearing…

What’s the verdict: Blood and Black Lace directed by Pedro Almodovar best describes Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano’s love letter to the films of Mario Bava, Dario Argento, and other Italian masters of suspense.

The writer-director duo have a blast weaving the giallo style and plots into their own deliciously dark movie. Set amidst the gaudiness of the 80s fashion scene, this is colourfully camp and infused with the bitter taste of hemlock.

And in these times of 80s nostalgia, giallo fans wanting the highs of Argento’s Opera or Michele Soavi’s Stage Fright will adore immersing themselves in the note perfect recreation here.

And the only thing cooler than the last 10 minutes of Crystal Eyes are the first 75. All the giallo trappings are on display: black gloved, black mac’d, knife-wielding killer. A bevy of beautiful girls who fall to the assassin’s blade. More red herrings than a fisherman’s net. So many fetishised objects: sequins, mannequins, high-heeled shoes. An irresistible score midway between John Carpenter and Goblin. A resourceful lead who must solve the mystery to unmask the psycho.

Endelman and Montejano are not above in-joke indulgence. Alexis’ surname is Carpenter. The formidable magazine editor is Lucia L’uccello. The Italian word for “bird”, l’uccello crops up in the Italian title of Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. A crystal plumaged fowl makes an appearance here.

Preventing this from slipping into tiresome pastiche are the filmmaking smarts of everyone involved. Endelman and Montejano have written a giallo that, despite its irony, works as a genuine mystery with set-piece slayings to make the old Italian masters proud.

The ill-fated photoshoot, in which Alexis meets her fiery final curtain, is full Duran Duran pomp aesthetic. With wickedly sharp humour when revealing why Alexis’ immolation occurs.

They clearly squeezed much out of a modest budget. Acting as their own production designers along with the wonderfully named Issis Trash (who also appears in a key role), Endelman and Montejano have created a gorgeous looking movie. Buildings and streets are aggressively angled (check out multiple knife shaped windows) and coloured with heavy gels. Deep blues and purples often replace true black for a more striking design, captured in Cecilia Casas and Vanina Gottardi’s cinematography.

Wittily referencing characters’ duplicity, the writer-director duo litter the film with doubling effects: split screens, mirrored compositions and literal twins in Augustina and Victoria Del Rosa, playing L’uccello’s muses.

The cast rise to meet the required tone and atmosphere, breathing life into characters fueled by eyeliner, day-glo wardrobes and spite. With minimal screen time Camila Pizzo creates a true boo-hiss villain. Politi is a captivating lead as Eva, the ambitious model who finds herself no.1 on the killer’s hit list.

An outrageous delight from start to finish, we cannot wait to see what Endelman and Montejano do next.

Rob Daniel
Twitter: rob_a_Daniel
iTunes Podcast: The Electric Shadows Podcast

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