FANTASTIC FEST 2011
By Don Simpson | September 27, 2011
Director: Elbert van Strien
Writer: Elbert van Strien, Paulo van Vliet
Starring: Isabelle Stokkel, Barry Atsma, Hadewych Minis, Charlotte Arnoldy
The titular two eyes belong to Karen (Charlotte Arnoldy), a young girl with jet black eyes and a heart that no longer ticks. Yes, Karen is dead; only a nine year old named Lisa (Isabelle Stokkel) can see her.
Lisa began seeing and communicating with Karen upon her relocation to Belgium. Lisa and her parents — Christine (Hadewych Minis) and Paul (Barry Atsma) — moved from Holland to Belgium to live in Christine’s childhood home; a small rural mansion that Christine inherited from her recently deceased mother from whom she has been estranged since childhood. Moving into the creepy old house dredges up an old family secret that dramatically effects both Lisa and Christine.
Intricately paced with a very slow build-up, Two Eyes Staring relies upon its atmosphere, contemplative mood and a creepy young girl for its thrills and chills. Elbert van Strien’s directorial patience is quite commendable, especially when Two Eyes Staring‘s final reel comes around. Van Strien’s decision to withhold several key facts about Christine’s past adds a significant punch to the conclusion; being that those revelations only end up spurring a plethora of other unanswered questions makes me love the way van Strien wraps up Two Eyes Staring even more.
A beautifully executed psychological thriller, it is left up to the audience to decide which character’s mental state has deteriorated the most. The character of Karen seems to be torn straight from the pages of one of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Heck, Two Eyes Staring could very well be the bastard stepchild of The Shining…and I cannot think of a better compliment to give a film.