Legend has it that there’s a telepathic connection between twins, so when in Julia’s Eyes the titular Julia experiences a choking sensation, she knows something’s wrong with her sister Sara. She’s right — Sara is dead, hanged from a rope in her basement. The signs all point to suicide, at least as far as the authorities are concerned but, as we experienced moviegoers often ask, what do they know?
Sara suffered from a hereditary disease that caused her to go blind and Julia has the same condition, albeit at a lesser stage. Currently she’s down to about 80% vision, although any sign of stress will cause an attack that will drop that figure by perhaps 10% a time. It’s an unusual sort of countdown clock, but that is essentially what it is. It’s imperative, therefore, that she takes it easy in life — her husband, Isaac, reminds her so constantly — but she knows she must conduct her own private investigation into her sister’s death.
A quick sortie to her sister’s house reveals the sort of clues we might expect in psychological thriller movies such as this. Sara had a mysterious boyfriend that people can comment on, but cannot remember. She often went to the local ocular clinic to work out and generally hang around other partially-sighted people. She confided, to an extent, with a neighbor (also blind; there’s a lot of ’em about) and she visited a hotel recently. Julia (Belén Rueda) has at least a starting point, then, but each one comes with associated danger as she is followed, just out of eye-range, by a shadowy man.
Deaths abound, generally of the more grisly variety, as Julia approaches a resolution. “Presented by Guillermo del Toro,” the movie’s poster proudly reads, so you might have some sort of idea what to expect and, if you’re excited about these things, you won’t be disappointed — an eyeball injection, for example, is a highlight/lowlight, depending on your point of view – and Julia’s Eyes is packed full of jumpy moments where characters flit in and out of shadows, or appear in places they shouldn’t. To an experienced veteran of peril movies these spikes are nothing more than blips, but in the hands of writer/director Guillem Morales they are enough to maintain interest — even if the movie’s probably thirty minutes longer than it had any right to be.
Rueda is given ample opportunity to pant and heave her gravity-defying breasts for the camera but generally does a respectable enough job, given the confines of the genre (she was nominated in the Spanish Goya Awards Best Actress category alongside the perennially naked Elena Anaya from Room in Rome although neither won). Spanish movies are generally perfectly watchable, although their obsession with psych-horror-thriller movies such as this needs to be addressed. Still, you know what you’re going to get with them and, in that sense, this movie provides enough schlocky-shock moments to justify being watched.
Spoiler rules prevent me from commenting on a large part of the story, but Julia’s Eyes is perfectly adequate in the sphere of such movies. Characters change from perfectly normal to raging psycho as the plot requires, and the female lead cottons on to the plot just after we do, as is the norm. It’s standard stuff, shot in an interesting style (we often don’t see characters’ faces when they’re talking to Julia, adding a further layer of mystery to the story), and with the sort of far-fetched ending we might expect. I suppose I’m just a smidge jaded of this genre, but as far as girl-in-peril movies go, it’s not the worst you could find.