Film

Casting Auditions Become Body Horror in the Uneven Starry Eyes

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Ambition, according to a shadowy movie producer in the uneven Starry Eyes, is “the blackest of human desires.” He says as much to aspiring actress Sarah (Alex Essoe), who lands a sought-after role in The Silver Scream after a casting agent walks in on her having a post-audition anxiety fit.

Sarah quickly becomes acquainted with the horror of getting what she always wanted and realizing it’s never what she imagined: The exploitation she felt going through the motions at her dead-end day job as a waitress at the hilariously named Big Taters is nothing compared to being asked to disrobe at a second audition for a part whose listing made no mention of nudity. “If you can’t free yourself to let go,” that same casting director asks, “how can you ever transform into something else?”

She takes the advice to heart and begins to merge with the fictional character she’s been asked to play, with co-writers/directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer taking a cue from several other nightmarish depictions of the film industry.

The film is far less successful once it delves into body horror that makes Sarah’s transformation as ghoulishly physical as it is mental, though Essoe goes above and beyond the call of duty by doing things most actors and actresses lauded as “brave” at year-end awards ceremonies would blush at.

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