Evil Eye is a creepy tale that blends modern horror with classic folktales. When her sister Luna’s (Ivana Sofia Ferro) illness takes a turn for the worse, Nala's (Paula Miguel) parents decide on a last resort strategy and take the family out to the countryside to stay with their estranged grandmother. Nala’s mother Rebecca (Samantha Castillo) has kept her relationship with her mother somewhat mysterious. This is the first time the girls and their father are meeting the woman.
As the parents take off to investigate treatment options, they leave the girls in the care of Grandmother Josefa (Ofelia Medina). Luna largely seems fine with it. As a younger child, she is fairly easy to please and there is plenty of nature to explore on the grounds of the large home. Nala, on the other hand, immediately hates it. No wifi, no friends, nothing to do. Added to this is the fact that Luna’s illness has put a ton of pressure on the family's relationships with one another. She loves her sister, but she is struggling with the fact that everything has been about Luna, including this hellish trip to the middle of nowhere. Yes, it's selfish, but she’s a teenager. Her world is relatively small and she is still the center of it.
Things don't improve much under the iron rules of Josepha. Where she at first presented as a harmless, frail old woman just interested in getting to know her grandchildren, she does a complete 180 once the parents leave. She becomes harsh, strict and gives Nala no leeway at all. Not to mention stronger.
As the girls try to settle in, the woman who works for Josefa tells them a local folktale about a group of sisters who struck a deal with a local witch who lived deep in the woods to save the life of one of their own. She says that witches remain young and beautiful by drinking the blood of children.
Nala begins having dreams about her grandmother coming into their bedroom in the middle of the night and draining the blood from Luna's small body. At least she thinks they're dreams. As time goes on and things in the house become more and more strange, she starts to realize that her fears may not just be the product of a creepy bedtime story.
Paula Manuel is incredible in the lead role. She really translates the competing feelings that Nala is experiencing. Her frustration and her love for her sister are present in equal amounts, and as the story progresses, she is able to break out of the mold of the frustrated teenager and step into theore adult time of protective sibling.
The film is a great mix of a classic fairy tale and a modern horror story. The folktale that the girls are told sets the tone of being something more classic-feeling, but director Isaac Ezban skillfully blends that vibe with a more modern method of storytelling. Especially given the witchy nature of the plot. Nothing quite sets the folk-horror vibe like a witch story. And Evil Eye definitely delivers.
Evil Eye Review Score: 4 / 5
I really dug David Farrier's 2016 film Tickled. It was a doc that went down a strange and unexpected rabbit hole, and I was hopeful that his new film Mister Organ would do the same.
I was not disappointed.
Mister Organ starts as a small story that Farrier was working on related to a strange issue of car clamping that was happening in one specific parking lot in Auckland. Apparently the proprietor of an antique store was so adamantly against people parking in her lot after business hours that she had an associate stalk the parking lot and clamp cars who dared park there. When the car owners returned to their vehicles, he would demand astronomical amounts of money to take the clamp off their car and allow them to leave.
His dive into the circumstances surrounding the ridiculous parking issue slowly goes deeper and deeper, eventually coming to focus on the man playing bouncer to the whole operation - Michael Organ. He has, let’s say, an interesting past. The more Farrier digs, the stranger things get. Not because Organ has been up to some weird stuff (and he has) but because of who Michael is. What drives him and how he interacts with those around him.
Michael is a person who thrives on power. He makes a point of dominating every situation, every conversation and every person he comes into contact with. Extricating yourself from his presence, weather in the moment or long term, is monumentally difficult. And as Farrier becomes more entangled in his world, things take on a threatening tone. Organ knows that he is the focal point of Farrier’s documentary, and he uses that in a number of ways to try to manipulate, gain the upper hand, and dominate every possible scenario.
About midway through the film, I began wondering just where all of this was headed. Organ’s backstory is strange and deceptive, but not part of some grand design destined to be blown wide open for the world to see. He is just an asshole. And then I realized, THAT is the point.
It’s not about the terrible things that Michael has done (and there are plenty); it’s about Michael himself. How he conducts himself. How he interacts and how he moves through the world. As Farrier states, the man is a void. He takes and takes and uses people as pawns in his strange and warped game. He manipulates those in his orbit and drains them until they have nothing left.
The film seeks to explore just how people like Michael operate and the staggering destruction that they leave in their wake. Farrier puts Michael’s persona on full display. Again and again we see him in his natural element, ruling conversation and dragging it into the ground. We hear from people who have known Michael over the years and listen to them describe the impact that he has had on their lives. Farrier refrains from making any diagnoses or drawing any specific conclusions about Michael. He lets the behavior speak for itself.
Which is more than sufficient - we have all known a Michael. Everyone has had dealings with people like this (albeit, maybe to lesser degrees). With this film, we have the opportunity to examine a type of behavior and to recognize it for the abusive horror that it is. Diving down this rabbit hole is emotionally exhausting, but also interesting. Not everything can be fixed, and not all wrongs can be righted. Sometimes the best thing that we can learn is how to avoid the people who are bad for us.
Mister Organ Review Score: 4 / 5