Open Your Eyes is a great example of apartment horror, and I like apartment horror. Like, a lot. There’s not a lot of it out there, though some good recent examples include 1BR, Dead Dicks, and Inquilinos. I think part of the appeal is the stage-like single-set, small-cast intimacy. In that scale, a lot has to be given to acting and character. And, you know, I grew up in apartments, not so much gothic mansions. So haunting, a familiar territory just hits home with me.
Open Your Eyes centers around screenwriter Jason Miller (Ry Barrett), alone in his apartment trying desperately to finish a movie script by deadline. He is isolated, a bit frantic, and things seem just a little out of order. Things blink in and out of existence around him. Just a little. The walls of his apartment are starting to crack and ooze. A definite Silent Hill 4: The Room vibe.
The world outside might as well not exist, until Lisa (Joanna Saul), a neighbor comes by to borrow some coffee. After a brief and awkward flirtation, she comes to dinner, and everything really starts falling apart.
If I go much further into the story, it’ll be spoiler town, and the description on the IMDb page does too much of that already.
The movie really is all about these two characters in a small apartment, separated from the outside world. Things seem off, but it is unclear what’s going on, though there are indicators. A ghost story is like a mystery, and to modern audiences, at least, it’s important that the mystery be fair. There should be clues that the audience can follow, or at least remember when the solution is revealed. Open Your Eyes may or may not really be a ghost story, but it is entirely fair.
The music is intense and foreboding, the acting is strong, and the characters are well-cast. This is a Canadian film, and I appreciate that the casting isn’t Hollywood-bland-pretty. These two people are real, unpolished human beings.
If there’s any drawback to the film, it’s probably the set design. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I have the feeling the designer is more used to stage production — the camera picks up more detail than a theater audience would normally see, and some parts look more painted than real. But maybe that just adds to the unreality of things. Maybe it’s more stylized than faulty. Honestly, the only reason I mention it is because I was trying to spot some fault, and this movie is pretty perfect.
The writer/director Greg A. Sager seems to be just starting out his career, and if this is indicative of his work, this is one to watch out for!
9 out of 10 Suspicious Chicken Dinners