31st Aug2022

Frightfest 2022: ‘The Eyes Below’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Vinicius Coelho, Pauline Morel | Written and Directed by Alexis Bruchon

We’ve all had that experience, especially as kids, when the darkness of bedtime is as terrifying as anything in any horror movie. I remember after seeing the original A Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time being absolutely TERRIFIED that Freddy Kreuger would reach out for my feet sticking out of my bed covers and take me off into the night.

That’s essentially what happens in The Eyes Below. Eugène goes to bed. Everything is calm and silent. About to fall asleep, something creeps up his legs, his stomach and then his chest. A mass, so heavy that he realises the night won’t be as peaceful as he thought…

French writer/director Alexis Bruchon made something of an impact with his first film, the noirish The Woman With Leopard Shoes, which told its story in a very minimalistic way. Bruchon’s penchant for minimalism is also at play here too, with the film told from the perspective of Eugene but also told without much dialogue – instead the story is told through physical performance, backed up by terrifying mice-en-scene.

Alexis Bruchon has once again managed to use one location, two actors and a whole heap of atmosphere to create a film that blurs the line between dreams and reality… all anchored down by a plot thread woven throughout the film that deals with a case our protagonist is working on that has far-reaching consequences for those involved, including Eugene.

The Eyes Below clearly starts out letting the audience think that what we’re seeing is a nightmarish creature coming for Eugene in the night, haunting not only his dreams but actually trying to take his life. However as his daytime job, a lawyer investigating a case of corporate corruption of the grandest variety, creeps further into the film and into Eugene’s consciousness it becomes clear that Eugene’s night terrors and the demonic creature trying to kill him in his sleep, is much more than that!

It’s a brilliant idea to play with that fugue state we feel when awoken in the night, where things we know to true can look and feel anything but – a coat on a door becomes a creepy man standing watching over us, that light from a plugged-in device turns into eyes staring at us from the dark… Bruchon uses that superbly here to confuscate not only his lead character but also the audience.

To say more would ruin The Eyes Below‘s fantastic denouement which adds a much-needed depth to a film that feels, at times, little more than a man screaming into the darkness. Terrifying as that may be!

***½  3.5/5

The Eyes Below screened as part of this year’s Arrow Video London Frightfest.


Comments are closed.