The Horror Honeys: Starry Eyes: Fame is Killer

Starry Eyes: Fame is Killer

A Multi-Honey Indie Review by Linnie and Kat 

The Story: Aspiring actress Sara is working full time at a Hooters-esque restaurant in LA, all while going on auditions for roles she has little hope of getting. But when she answers a casting call with an elite production agency, is Sarah willing to sell her soul for fame and fortune? Directed and written by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, Starry Eyes is both an exceptionally unsettling horror movie, as well as fascinating meditation on the quest for fame in a Hollywood where it's all about who you know... even if that "who" might be a satanic cult.

The Head Honey's Take

As someone who has worked in the film industry, and as a makeup artist doing headshot makeup, I've interacted with my fair share of doe eyed carbon copies who dream of "making it" as an actress. So it came as no surprise that the opening scenes of Starry Eyes made me roll my own eyes nearly out of my head. I recall that I was so pissed off and frustrated that I almost turned the screener off, and I never do that. Watching Sarah berate and injure herself and then throw a tantrum like a spoiled child infuriated me. Seeing these women, these "friends," tear each other down with snide comments and some serious shade throwing infuriated me to such a level that my notes include this little gem: "Oh look, a party full of people that I would murder for free." Herein lies my issue: there's something I hate about entitlement, and Starry Eyes managed to smack me right in the face with it from its first moments.  

It's all fun and games until someone gets sacrificed. 
Starry Eyes isn't just about Hollywood and it isn't just about actresses: it's about anyone who struggles to express themselves and be accepted. Perhaps it's about the struggle to break into an industry that is selective about its perceived elite, perhaps it's a glaring judgement about the primal nature of ambition. On an even more obscure level, Starry Eyes could be viewed as a 'journey' of expression on the road to glory as we are forever changed by the experience. Or maybe it is just about Hollywood and it's disposable 'look at me, I'm special!' attitudes.

In Sarah's search for her breakout role, she is irrevocably (and beautifully) changed by the experience, and in the most extreme and literal way she has stepped away from her old life and transformed herself. My notes on the end of the film are just "perfect" repeated over and over again for a few lines... In a slightly super creepy meta kind of way, Alex Essoe is Sarah, and this is her breakout role. The uncomfortable lengths that Sarah went to to acquire her part hopefully don't mirror her process to acquire her own part, but you never know...

Being an actress is awesome! Look how much fun we're having!
Dreams require sacrifice, and in the case of Starry Eyes, it's my hope that all of the sacrifice pays off. While it may never get the "mainstream" recognition it deserves, what is definitely and concretely proved is that indie film is the true hope for the future of horror.

Verdict: See the fucking movie - 4 starry eyes out of 5

The Revenge Honey's Take

Confession time: when I lived in Los Angeles, I was very close friends with a lovely and gorgeous actress. On a few separate occasions, I spent time in a group with her and her actress friends, and when I saw how they would talk to her, how they would backbite and cut her down and intentionally try to undermine her confidence... well. I spent a lot of time like this:

So on that front, Starry Eyes gets things 100% right, while also fulfilling a few of my own personal fantasies. Unlike Kat, I was invested in Starry Eyes right from the beginning, mostly because I found all of the characters brilliantly realistic: equal parts obnoxious, frustrating, and sympathetic. I especially found the female relationships to be exceptionally well drawn, given the script was written by two men. Even the closest friendships between women are often fraught with some kind of competition, and this was portrayed carefully without drawing broad and obvious, "cat-fight-y" strokes. You win automatic Revenge Honey bonus points, good for handshakes and free beer at any coincidental meeting in the future.

I'd rather live in a van.
But of course, Starry Eyes isn't really about female relationships. It isn't even exclusively about the lengths some people will go to for fame. Even when you love film, and I do, you love it with the knowledge that Hollywood is hell and it's doubly worse for women. As I watched Kolsch and Widmyer's movie, I wasn't just unnerved by their skills at crafting a memorable body horror, but I was also amply impressed that they managed to craft the most effective cautionary tale for young women with dreams of Hollywood since Sunset Boulevard. Whether you sell your body or your soul for a part, the Dream Factory has different standards for women coming up in the industry and you might not recognize yourself when you come out on the other side.

There is also a certain ambiguity to Starry Eyes that made the viewing experience that much more interesting. In a sense, you are left to draw your own conclusions about the nature of Sarah's experiences. You could apply all manner of ghostie and ghoulie to the symptoms of her "illness," and while under normal circumstances this would have been frustrating, it felt appropriate given the subject matter. Sarah was willing to be whatever she had to be in order to be famous. It was fitting that even her possession be scattered.

The perfect look for cornering the market on "drug addict"
roles in Dick Wolf shows.
Overall, Starry Eyes is the kind of indie that is going to continue to make huge impressions on audiences. Visceral, frightening, and brilliant, this film should be required viewing for any young girl interested in acting... for a plethora of reasons.

Revenge Honey Rating: 4 Non-Scientologist Hollywood Cults out of 5

Bonus Revenge Honey Survival Tip: If someone is attempting to suffocate you with a bag, for the love of Godzilla, don't try to fight the person attacking you. Don't try to remove the bag from the bottom. TEAR A HOLE IN THE BAG NEAR YOUR MOUTH! Not only will you be able to breathe, but you'll also buy yourself some time as your attacker gets flustered because you outsmarted them.