Better The Devil, You Know…
Sarah (Alexandra Essor, fearless), an aspiring actress, pays her bill by working at Big Tatters, a family restaurant with boobs where the waitresses wear potato-skin-inspired very tight pants. She shares a house with a bunch of bros and hoes, endlessly discussing the movie they will never shoot. For some obfuscating reason, the scene is in Los Angeles.
Sarah gets an audition for “The Silver Scream”, produced by Astreus Pictures, a once prominent company now on an eclipse but planning their big return to the horror genre. It does not go well and she throws a fit in the bathroom, banging her bag on the wall (with her cellphone in it, one presumes), screaming and pulling off her hair, a rather mild reaction after such a disappointment. Her rage attracts the attention of the casting director who’s not played by a terrible actor and she’s asked to replay her fit, only with epileptic shaking.
By the time a disheveled Sarah walks the streets while synth music plays, two things have become obvious: the movie will follow the same Halloween-inspired horror nouveau template than features like The House of the Devil or Girl Walks Alone at Night, and it will neither be great or awful. But it has a certain something in the slow burn vein.
At her second audition Sarah is asked to disrobe completely, which she does reluctantly at first, until she experiences some kind of an epiphany possibly induced by the flashing strobe lights. Are they trying to give her a seizure? The casting matron sports a pentacle pendant, so one knows that some cult is behind Astreus. Ominous name, check.
Three being the charm it is, she’s invited to met the producer, a libidinous creep who tells her in a conspiratorial tone things like “Ambition is the blackest of human desires” and “I want to capture the ugliness of the human spirit” before feeling her up. Being the epileptic goody-two-shoes she is, Sarah backs off and storms out. Her one female roomate who’s not passive-agressive is appalled: “You don’t mean sex!” she scoffs as if the casting couch was an alien notion in LA.
Sarah takes the walk of shame, begs for her job back at Big Tatters and threatens to spiral into depression. She musters the courage, or is desperate enough, to beg Astreus for a second chance. At this point, one would be allowed to think of her as a tad irresolute.
She goes to her meeting with the head of Astreus dressed as a hooker, because life is for doers, not quitters, and she also gets to meet his other head. “Show me the real Sarah”, he says, to which she doesn’t respond since her mouth is full. The producer has a pentacle tattoo and a very vulgar diamond watch. A masked silhouette observes Sarah, well, performing.
Morning after is a b****. She feels nauseous, gets fired, flashes her roommates and loses her hair while wandering the streets on obsessive dialogue loops. Visions of herself dolled up like a drag queen alternate with losing tooth and nails in he fashion made popular by The Fly. At the point her vagina bleeds and she throws up worms, one wonders what it was she actually swallowed the night before. Astreus explains her that she has to die for a new star to be born.
But not before killing her roommates, in a slasher segment which provides a welcome rush to the movie pace. The worst of the lot has the best death scene, Torn Curtain-style, before it is time for Sarah to lay down and die.
In a finale which does not make any dreadful mistake (ultimate jump scare, loose ends, call for a sequel, to name but a few), Sarah is born again as Annie Lennox, complete with Savage wig and make-up moves from the Why video. Part character study, part body horror, part slasher, part satanism, Starry Eyes does not really coalesces into a coherent whole. The idea that to become part of the Hollywood elite you have to suck c***, lose your teeth and vomit maggots seems eerily adequate, though.