Crystal Eyes is a giallo movie set in Buenos Aires with dialogue entirely in Spanish, as befits that part of the world. It immediately goes against everything we know about giallo movies, and yet the film fits the template as perfectly as a couture gown. It’s gory, it’s garish, it’s both too bright and so old-school murky it looks like a VHS tape. It’s completely fabulous.
Right off the bat, we’re thrown into the catty backstage world of a high fashion catwalk show that for some inexplicable reason given all the engineering work on display is somehow not taking place in Berlin. Hottest model of the moment, Alexis Carpenter (a brilliantly unhinged Camila Pizzo), is driving everyone crazy with her demands and obvious coke habit.
A lowly makeup artist is almost brought to tears as she tries, and fails, to do Alexis’s makeup — the whole show hinges on whether this beautiful lunatic will even deign to grace the catwalk with her presence. When she eventually does make her grand debut, tragedy strikes and Alexis is killed right in the very spot that made her famous.
On the first anniversary of her death, a masked killer starts stalking and ruthlessly offing everybody deemed to be responsible for the loss. Everyone is a suspect and nobody is safe. But, in the cutthroat world of high fashion, it’s business as usual, with a big fashion show planned in Alexis’s honour. As you do.
Crystal Eyes is set in 1985, so the costuming is era-appropriately weird and wonderful. There’s plenty of wild makeup, big sleeves, even bigger hair, and puffy collars on everything. The film is visually arresting in the realest sense, particularly during the death scenes, which are over the top and silly but also vicious and ultra-violent.
The killer is dressed, fittingly, as a sassy mannequin, complete with a perfectly-done plastic visage (the crystal eyes of the title), and, well, killer heels. The entire time these stunning women were being stalked and murdered, I was hoping it was a man in those heels, making it clear that they’re all trapped in this fake-ass world with no hope of escape.
Crystal Eyes certainly isn’t subtle, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s camp, it’s garish, it knows exactly what kind of film it is. It’s also proudly and very defiantly a giallo movie. There are tons of references thrown in, from everything to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (in a thrilling finale sequence), to literally naming a character after Fulci.
The wild tone certainly suits the material. Considering this is a film in which a shot of a photo splashed with red nail polish transitions into one of that same photo splattered with blood, there’s no sense pretending. The thing almost looks like it was shot on film ’cause it’s so dreamlike and arch. The graininess just adds to the haute couture naughtiness.
As a calling card for Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, who co-directed and co-wrote the screenplay, Crystal Eyes couldn’t be any clearer in its intentions. It’s very arch, very grand, and very, very silly, but the thing is also gorgeously captured and doesn’t overstay its welcome at just 82 minutes long.
On this evidence, clearly the giallo is back in fashion, and who better than two men utilising the moniker of Toy Boys Inc. for their production company to lead the charge?
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano
Writer(s): Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano
Stars: Lucía L’uccello, Eva Lantier, Irene del Lago, Camila Pizzo
Release date: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: Toy Boys Inc.
Length: 82 minutes