Ever suffered from night terrors or sleep paralysis? Well writer/director/producer Alexis Bruchon captures the phenomenon realistically in his tense new film ‘The Eyes Below’. The second in a planned trilogy of thrillers from the film-maker, and the follow-up to the execellent ‘The Woman With The Leopard Shoes’, ‘The Eyes Below’ focuses on the character of Eugene (Vinicius Coelho), a journalist working on a whistleblower piece that is causing him plenty of anxiety. One night as he gets into bed, he discovers something crawling up his body and he spends the rest of the night trying to fight it.
‘The Eyes Below’ is similar in style to Bruchon’s previous film ‘The Woman With The Leopard Shoes’ in that it features no dialogue and often written text in notes or some such do much of the story narrating for you. While ‘The Woman With The Leopard Shoes’ saw a man trapped in a room during a party, ‘The Eyes Below’ takes place in the Eugene’s bed and it stays in that setting for the duration. You may think that no one can possibly get a 77-minute film out of that scenario but Bruchon does and it’s fantastic.
As someone who has experienced night terrors and sleep paralysis, I found ‘The Eyes Below’ to be incredibly claustrophobic and intense (and both of those are good things). When Eugene realises there’s something crawling up his body under the sheets, it’s actually terrifying and brings to mind the Japanese ‘Grudge’ films. As the entity climbs up his body, it reveals two eyes that stare into Eugene’s soul and so begins a fierce battle to make it through the night.
What Bruchon is so expert at doing is engaging his audience. They are invited to solve the puzzle along with Eugene and it’s a lot of fun doing so. Is Eugene suffering from some fantastical hallucination? Is he having a very vivid dream? Is everything we see actually happening? You’ll have to watch the film to find out but despite the limited setting, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Like Eugene, I found myself nervously anticipating what might happen next and I felt as desperate as he is to figure out what on earth is going on.
With the film having no dialogue, it’s a real challenge for lead actor Vinicius Coelho. He’s on screen for the duration of the film and he can only use his facial expressions and body language to convey what he’s feeling. The written notes and text that appears every now and then helps, but credit to Coelho for so wonderfully drawing in the audience and keeping them engaged. Mention should be made of Pauline Morel too who plays the mysterious entity that’s plaguing Eugene throughout the film.
To say any more about the film would be to spoil it but ‘The Eyes Below’ is a refreshing piece of cinema that showcases how creativity can be much more engaging than star-power, big budgets and special effects. Alexis Bruchon is really making his mark in the world of film and I can’t wait to see what his next film, ‘Point de fuite’, delivers. ‘The Eyes Below’ is unlike anything else I’ve seen and I’m tempted to go back and watch it again.
Cast: Vinicius Coelho, Pauline Morel Director: Alexis Bruchon Writer: Alexis Bruchon Certificate: 18 Duration: 77 mins