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Confessions of a Cinephile – Open Your Eyes (2021) – Film Review

Column written by David Garrett

  • Film: Open Your Eyes
  • Year: 2021
  • Director: Greg A. Sager
  • Writer: Greg A. Sager
  • Starring: Ry Barrett, Joanna Saul and Julianna Suzanne Bailey

Review:

This was a movie that I had the pleasure of seeing thanks to Alicia Diaz who reached out to me. I do want to thank Matchbox Pictures, along with writer/director Greg A. Sager for sending me a screener. Other than that, I came into this movie blind as I enjoy doing with independent films as to not expect anything. The synopsis would be unable to cope with recent events, screenwriter Jason Miller (Ry Barrett) dives relentlessly into his newest screenplay in an attempt to avoid dealing with a traumatic experience.

We start here with hearing a woman breathing heavy. Jason stumbles out of a bedroom into a dirty hallway. He collapses onto the floor with a bottle of Maker’s Mark and passes out. When he wakes up, the hall is no longer dirty and he’s confused by a picture he looks at. We then see as Jason goes about his day, which includes rolling up what looks to be a carpet, taping it and moving it out of the apartment to a trash room.

Back in his place, Jason sits down with coffee, tapes a cigar to the corkboard in front of him and tries to start working. As the synopsis states, Jason is a screenwriter and his process is to have this smoke as his victory for completion. The problem is that he doesn’t know where to start. He does get sparked when his agent, Alan calls him. He does lie to him about being close to finishing. Jason then writes Hope? on a post-it note and puts that on his board as well.

He then gets inspiration. He writes 27 pages in a flurry. There are distractions though. Someone continues to knock on his door. When he answers there is no one there. There is also a crack on his wall and a thick liquid is leaking through from the apartment above. Whatever it is, it smells bad. Jason goes up there a few times to speak with the tenet, but no one answers. He believes they are avoiding him as he can hear movement coming from that apartment. Jason also hears a cat stuck in a vent in the wall outside of his apartment.

Not everything is a bad distraction though. He meets a beautiful neighbor of Lisa (Joanna Saul). She comes over to borrow coffee and states that she’s seen him around, but he seems lost in his world. Things aren’t as they seem around him though. One minute when he looks in a cupboard, there is nothing. When he looks again there are items there. What is going on here and what is up with this crack in his wall as well as the weird liquid dripping down into his apartment. Jason will need to look inside himself to learn the truth and open his eyes.

That is where I’m going to leave my recap as I don’t want to go into spoilers. What I will say is that this is an interesting film. It isn’t necessarily doing anything new, but I did like the take this movie is giving to us. There is some solid writing here as things are introduced that makes sense to things later on into the movie.

Where I should focus first would be Jason. He is a pretty good looking guy who is living in this pretty much empty apartment building. Now I took this as more of a budget thing and also I’m pretty sure this was filmed during the pandemic so a limited cast makes sense. Jason is doing what I would love to, he’s a screenwriter. There was a scene where I connected with him when Lisa asks what his screenplay is about. I have trouble giving a short answer to questions like this so seeing him struggle was good. There is an interesting reveal here and I would say that why Jason stumbles over his words involves another revelation that we get later.

Without giving too much away, I did like some the metaphorical aspects to this movie. Jason not being able to tell Lisa what his screenplay is about is one. The crack in the wall of his apartment is another. Even the title of the movie is really another one and this one really includes a few different aspects to the movie. I found all of this to be cleverly done.

Something I brought up earlier was the limited cast. I don’t really know if you need that many more extras to really flesh this out, aside from making the apartment building look more lived in. I can understand story-wise why you don’t need to as well. Barrett does a solid job at seeming nervous or unstable from the beginning. I chalked it up to the pressure of getting this screenplay done, but the more we learn, the more you can see there is more to this. His performance fit for me. Saul is also good as well. It takes time before she shows up, but she really becomes important for the ending. She is also quite attractive, which never hurts. There really are just 2 other actresses that come in right at the end and they were fine as well. Also, shout out to the cat in the movie.

Next would be the cinematography and the effects. For the former, I think that the movie does a solid job here. There is a brief glimpse of something in the beginning and then at the reveal, it all makes sense. I think how this was shot was solid and there were no issues there for me. As for the effects, we don’t get a lot of them. There is a bit of CGI. I’m not usually a fan as most will know, but I think how it is used here is good. The practical effects for things later in the movie were solid as well. Overall I’d say I’m positive for this aspect to the movie.

So then in conclusion here, this is a movie that is taking a concept that we’ve seen before and then doing something a bit different with it. This is really carried by Barrett as his portrayal of Jason, but I also think that Saul comes in strong once her character is introduced. I like where the movie takes us and the grander implications by the end of it. The cinematography and the effects are solid. The soundtrack did stand out a few times for me, building up that creepy vibe the movie needed. If I did have any issues, it might run a tad too long. There are some things that get a bit repetitive and I don’t think it would hurt the product to trim. Overall I would say this is an above average movie. If you like unreliable narrator movies, I would give this a go.

My Rating: 7 out of 10 Open Your Eyes is available now to Rent or Buy on VOD.

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