When I was recently offered a screener link and opportunity to interview the writer/director of a movie titled That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes, I thought I’d check it out.
The title sounded like some whacked out, low budget horror film. Movies like that are sometimes fun to watch.
As is sometimes the case, you can’t judge a movie from its title, or the movie trailer promoting it.
Sometimes, it’s just plain marketing hype.
It’s hard to say what That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes is, exactly. It’s a strange concoction of movie genres: romance, suspense/thriller, sci-fi, horror, zombie. And a little touch of soft-core gay porn thrown in for good measure.
Writer/Director Onur Tukel seems to be covering his bases, hoping that something in this mash-up of a movie will appeal to someone out there.
Like so many movies in recent years, That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes is beautifully shot, thanks to improvements in digital camera technology and post-production software.
Much of the movie is rendered in rich, deep black and white. The various shots look like art gallery quality black and white still photos.
They are beautifully framed and perfectly exposed. High gloss. Slick.
For all means and purposes, you think that you’re watching the work of some breakout foreign film genius.
But then comes the story. And you realize as the story unfolds, that this film is a triumph of style versus content.
It begins as a romance between two French speaking young lovers (Lucy and Andy) who share an apartment in New York. From the beginning, you know that things are not going well.
Lucy wants Andy to move out and find his own place. She’s going on an overseas trip and tells Andy that he has to leave before her estranged (or just plain strange) father arrives for an awkward, unplanned visit.
Andy doesn’t have a place to go. But that’s only one of the problems he faces. He is apparently the world’s worst cook, working at a small, trendy restaurant where clients complain about how bad the food is. It’s so bad that it makes them physically sick.
When the boss calls Andy in to fire him, Andy makes an impassioned speech about how much he loves to cook and that he will do whatever it takes to succeed. The reality is that Andy is just a hopeless screwup. He’s a magnet for ill fortune and bad luck.
When Lucy’s eccentric dad, Dennis, finally arrives, we find that he is a photographer whose ego far surpasses his talent. He wants to stage a show, but the gallery owners think that his work is drab and uninteresting.
Solution? Dennis begins to invite young gay men over to the apartment where they drink, disrobe and dance while Dennis stoops and shoots 35mm film frames of their junk which is always tastefully turned away from the movie camera.
It’s here that the movie descends into what can best be described as something akin to throwback soft core, PG-13 gay porn, if there is such a thing.
That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes seems to want to pass itself off as some sort of art film. Most of it is shot in black and white with occasional flashbacks in color.
Most of the dialog is in French. Subtitled. There are references to Andy Warhol enough to evoke comparisons to Warhol and his famous Factory that became a hangout for the colorful fringe element who came out of the woodwork in the Sixties and Seventies.
What takes place here is a far cry from that.
Onur Tukel is not Andy Warhol, who I actually met and photographed in his studio back in the mid-Seventies.
There is a bizarre sci-fi element to the film, in the form of an omnipresent electronic eye that is seen throughout the city. It bears more than a little resemblance to HAL 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968), except that it doesn’t talk or interact with anyone.
It just stares, and is part of some new, mysterious high speed internet service that everyone suspects is frying people’s brains. Expectations arise that there will be mass hysteria and bloody civil unrest by the end of the movie, but that never happens.
Actually, nothing much happens in That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes.
It has all the ear markings of a movie that was being written as it was being shot. That is to say, a movie that never really had a script.
There is some weird behavior and shots of people with dead looking eyes that are glazed over and milky white. The zombie element here is unmistakable. But, like most of the movie, it goes nowhere.
And yes, there is the inclusion of a street mime. When in doubt, toss in a street mime. It worked for Antonioni in Blow-Up (1966) right?
There are movies that are so strange and surreal that they are actually interesting to watch. Eraserhead (1977) comes to mind. The plot is pretty inexplicable, but David Lynch creates a portal to someone’s twisted dream world that is impossible to describe, yet fascinating to watch.
Unfortunately, that’s not going on here.
It’s just a whacky world of bizarre behavior, bad food and backed up toilets.
That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes is a movie heavy with pretty pictures and precious little plot.
Following the final credits, don’t be surprised if the cold dead look is in YOUR brain-fried eyes if you happen to catch your reflection in a mirror.
That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes is On Demand now.