Julia's Eyes ★★★

This Guillermo del Toro produced horror/thriller actually has more in common with the giallo films of Italy than the horror films of its native country, Spain. It has the twisting plot (although disappointingly the twists are a little too easy to see coming, if you excuse the pun), a high body count, a murderer kept in the shadows and a strong psycho-sexual undercurrent. Where it differs from giallo is in the restrained presentation which is arguably where its greatest weakness lies.

For all the faults of giallo (bad acting, nonsensical plotting etc.) one of its biggest appeals is in the pulpy quality of the stories and their grand guignol exuberance, something Julia's Eyes really could have done with. It is a solid film with strong performances (particularly from the ever reliable Belén Rueda) and beautiful cinematography but it gets bogged down in tacky sentimentality and a serious tone the plot can't quite deliver. The central concept of a woman losing her vision whilst being pursued by a killer is wonderful, and occasionally the film manages to live up to this potential, but throughout I kept wondering what exciting things Argento or Bazzoni would do with the story. When it needed to really go full throttle it always held back meaning you could admire the craft of the film but never truly fall in love with it.

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