OPEN YOUR EYES is a horror, thriller, mystery hybrid of a movie. It has lots of twists and turns and should keep you guessing. It’s a low-budget production, but definitely not a B movie. And that ending is awesome and lifts the movie. Read our full Open Your Eyes movie review here!
“Are you a fan of low budget, B-horror movies without any discernible stars?”
With a line of dialogue like that (occurring halfway through Open Your Eyes), it might seem that the film is a low-budget, B-horror film, hoping to elevate its quality with a moment of self-awareness.
Now, it is a low-budget film, but it is not B-horror. And it is not self-aware.
But this was one of many well-timed red herrings that Open Your Eyes expertly employs to leave the viewer really questioning the film’s (and maybe his/her/their own) realities.
“I kind of live in my head sometimes”
Open Your Eyes is about Jason, a screenwriter struggling with writer’s block, despite assuring his agent that he is making headway on his next script. Amidst these struggles, Jason (played by Ry Barrett who has several horror credits) is hearing mysterious knocks at the front door of his apartment, only to find a rogue housecat slipping in and out of the building’s ventilation system.
Jason then meets Lisa (Joanna Saul), a neighbor who Jason has never met but claims to have lived in the building for some time. After awkward yet reciprocated flirting, Jason invites Lisa over for dinner, and things seem to be going well. Or are they…
Jason: “Well, I feel like I’ve just been rambling on about myself, and I haven’t heard anything from you today. Tell me something about yourself.”
Lisa: “I think you probably know more than you think.”
Jason: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Lisa: “Why am I here, Jason?”
Along with some odd “glitches in the matrix” in earlier scenes, Jason (and the viewer) begin to question what is actually happening. What happened to Jason’s script? Why is there an expanding crack in Jason’s living room wall? What’s wrong with Jason?
A 3-star beginning with a 5-star ending
Open Your Eyes, written and directed by Greg A. Sager was a surprisingly brilliant film. As I mentioned in my first review for Heaven of Horror (Pooka!), I have a particular affinity for films that explore a character’s psyche (e.g., Donnie Darko, Memento).
Open Your Eyes excels on this front, but not only because the viewer is witnessing Jason’s coming to terms with his own perceptions, but because the film also plays with the viewer’s psychology. In my notes, I wrote, “Is this just an adaptation of Shutter Island?” I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the same thing, but I assure you, it’s not.
The film also succeeds with a very small cast, reminiscent of one of my favorite mystery/thrillers, The One I Love. While IMDb lists 4 actors, I counted 5, with 3 of those actors exceptionally being used for a single scene. Here, while Barrett shined in his role (embracing an expected social awkwardness), Saul seemed less impressive, but this primarily reflected Barrett being able to do more with a screenplay that was weaker during the middle third of the film.
But be patient. Given the film’s finale, Saul’s delivery and the vagueness and monotony of her dialogue (which work well) make sense.
Watch Open Your Eyes on June 1
There is a moment toward the end of Open Your Eyes when Jason’s facial expressions change so much that I thought for a moment that there was a new actor. And it is that change in expectation that sums up the trajectory of the film, one that truly came into its own in its final third.
While it is not perfect, it is quite a good mystery. And yet, I can only think how much scarier it would have been had it come out one year ago…
Recommendation: Stream it (the sooner you do, the scarier it may be)
Open Your Eyes is available on VOD, DVD & Blu-Ray on June 1, 2021.
Director: Greg A. Sager
Writer: Greg A. Sager
Stars: Ry Barrett, Joanna Saul, Julianna Suzanne Bailey
In Open Your Eyes, Jason Miller dives head first into his newest screenplay in an attempt to avoid dealing with a traumatic experience. With his mental state teetering on the edge, he meets Lisa, his neighbor from down the hall, and a relationship begins to form. As he becomes more intrigued with Lisa, Jason continues to burn the midnight oil to finish his script, strange and mysterious things begin to happen, causing him to question everything. With his mind unravelling and his life spinning out of control, Jason struggles to hold onto the one thing he wants most, hope.