Elbert Van Strien is a director who knows his horror history and, as importantly, his horror present.
"Two Eyes Staring" is a psychological horror thriller that paints a none too pretty picture of family life, sibling rivalry and takes a sneaky peak at matricide along the way.
When Paul and Christine inherit her mothers home in Belgium Christine doesn't exactly leap for joy. Dark secrets about her family and their past are already clearly bubbling under the surface. Their daughter, the permanently frowning and worried Lisa, is equally lacking in enthusiasm for the move...and it soon transpires that she has good reason to be fearful of what may lie in store.
Lisa soon replaces her imaginary friend from Holland with a new one...the cellar girl. The cellar girl is pale skinned, dark eyed and fond of causing mischief for Christine. She is also more than she first appears to be and by the films end she is, conversely, much less than we thought she was.
Their are knowing nods to (among others I'm sure) "The Shining" (I can't say why without giving away a crucial part of the plot), "The Exorcist" (the imaginary friend who soon becomes far from friendly), "Don't Look Now", Hideo Nakatas "Dark Water" (the original title of the film is "Black Water"), several J-Horror spooks and monsters ("Ringu" and "Ju-On" as well as the aforementioned "Dark Water"), "The Orphanage" and I even detected a hint of Rona Marks "Strange Girls" at one stage.
Van Strien provides enough frights to cause audience members to jump a little and enough creepy images to create the basis of nightmares for weeks to come. The fact that the director himself can only name a handful of other Dutch horror films (including "The Lift" and "The Vanishing") tells you that the very fact he was able to get this film made at all is an achievement, the fact that he has produced something so memorable is a testament to his abilities.
My first film of the 2010 EIFF and it didn't disappoint.
The film is showing again on the 22nd of June at 10:30 (Cameo 1).