Julia’s Eyes is an unsettling thriller that yet again confirms Spain’s status as the home of original horror!
Julia (played magnificently and convincingly by Belén Rueda, The Orphanage, The Sea Inside) suffers from a degenerative disease that will leave her blind. Her sister, Sara, who also suffers from the disease, is discovered hanging in the family’s basement. Everyone believes she has committed suicide. Everyone, apart from Julia that is. In a race against time and her gradual loss of sight, she tries to uncover the truth, never quite sure that her eyes aren’t already playing tricks on her. Curzon Soho not only has a preview screening of Julia’s Eyes but also a Q&A with the director Guillem Morales who will be discussing the film after the screening. Produced by the brilliant Guillermo del Toro, Julia’s Eyes is a spine-tingling film that unnerves you in a very subtle and psychological way. Volt Café managed to meet up with the young Director, Guillem Morales.

Volt Café: I really liked the fact that Julia was played by an actress in her 40’s. Usually horror films, especially the Hollywood genre, relies on the increasingly tiresome and predictable concept of very young girl being terrified out of her wits. Belén Rueda is amazing and very believable as Julia… Why the decision to use an ‘older’ actor?

Guillem Morales: Well, the script called for a mature character, to make the love story feasible. I would love to work with Belèn again – she is an extraordinary human being. And she made it so much easier to render the script credible.

VC: The scene where she meets her dead husband at the end… And she remembers him saying (when they first met) that the stars in the sky are all in her eyes. That is very touching and sad.

GM: It IS sad – but not really. The important thing is that she accomplishes her objective, which is to really ‘see’ what’s important. She gets peace of mind. She discovers it is possible for her to be blind and be accepting of this fact because at that moment she realises what is really crucial to her.

VC: In most horror films darkness is a major fear inducer. Yet you seem to use light! When she chases the ‘invisible’ man down a dark corridor, she uses the flash from a camera which imposes a sense of mounting horror; the handyman at the hotel is killed by a lit light bulb being lowered into his bath tub and ultimately, the killer threatens to expose her freshly operated-on eyes to the light, knowing the devastation it will wreck on her potential to see again. Throughout the film you almost feel as if she’s devouring light in the same way someone choking to death is gulping for air…

GM: The film is essentially about a woman going blind, about what is visible and invisible. She needs to accept her oncoming blindness. Of course she fears, there’s a fear of dependency on others, lots of psychological issues. By confronting her fears she realizes that love and the world around her is the most important factors and they remain unaffected by her blindness.

VC: To me the scene where she infiltrates a group of blind women in a changing room, initially without them sensing her, was truly horrific – so many layers of fear! Her fear and shame of discovery, her latent fear of ending up blind like they are and then the moment the women start sensing she is there, groping the air for her… Scary! And yet a very simple scenario, one that relies on your imagination as you watch it unfold.

GM: Going blind is such a major issue to most people. And yet… We spoke to various groups of blind people while the script was in development. You need to embrace it as a fact if it happens to you. Your attitude to any change is very important. Welcome the loss because your attitude will have to change in order to survive. Try not to see anything as negative or positive, at the end of the day it’s just a fact.

VC: Finally, I have to ask you what working with the Producer, Guillermo del Toro, was like?

GM: An amazing experience! He is of course very creative and gets a creative dialogue going, he makes doors open you didn’t even knew existed in your mind… He really pushes you but with a great sense of humour.

Julia’s Eyes goes on general release on the 20th May 2011.
The Q&A at Curzon Soho is on the 19th May

Words by Anna Bang

Tags

Bèlen Rueda, Curzon Soho, Guillem Morales, Guillermo del Toro, Julia's Eyes,