It’s been a while since I’ve recommended something on Netflix Streaming so let’s fix that. I noticed the other day while throwing some titles into my queue that they’ve recently acquired the underrated, in my eyes, CLOSE YOUR EYES from 2002 (has it really been almost ten years?). This is a movie that really surprised me both in content and in the fact that it didn’t garner more attention. Scratch that, maybe I’m not so surprised that CLOSE YOUR EYES failed to make a significant mark. It’s one of those movies that is too gruesome for the serious crowd and too serious for the gruesome crowd and like many movies that refuse to court a specific audience, it failed to find a seat when the musical chairs music stopped. People tend to love or hate it and my theory is that’s because it sets up a very believable reality only to turn it on its head and not everybody can make the leap from the everyday to the fantastic mid-film. Personally I love to be taken off guard when a carefully constructed game board is flipped.
Policewoman Janet Losey (SHIRLEY HENDERSON) is so impressed with the abilities of her hypnotherapist Michael Strother (GORAN VISNJIC) that she solicits his help with a child who escaped the clutches of a deranged serial killer. The little girl (SOPHIE STUCKEY of the equally underrated THE DARK) was found with a strange tattoo and that is the only lead as the experience has left her mute. While his traumatized subject is hypnotized, Strother is able to enter her subconscious as if it were another world. Some of these alternate reality zones are a bit dated looking but it allows for some pretty cool ALTERED STATES/DREAMSCAPE type stuff to occur and I’m always into that. The first part of the film plays like a London based psychological detective story (think PRIME SUSPECT) but once the truth begins to emerge, we get some pretty heavy occult action (think BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN). I won’t say more about that latter development so that you can discover that twisted angle yourself but suffice to say CLOSE is not afraid to get crazy dark.
I have to applaud the performances and the chemistry between the film’s two leads. Easy to watch VISNJIC brings to mind GREGORY PECK in SPELLBOUND and HENDERSON is sorta like JENNIFER JASON LEIGH doing Clarice Starling with the help of a smoking habit and big SINEAD O’CONNOR doe-eyes. Their romance-free simpatico relationship is as refreshing as it is strangely endearing and it’s nice to see the novel gender reversal of HENDERSON being the aggressive cop and VISNJIC taking on the sensitive, put-upon psychic. If you dig mysteries, serial killer thrillers, ARGENTO-like obsessions with architecture or season four of TRUE BLOOD (big bad FIONA SHAW swipes a few scenes in CLOSE too!) you should give this a viewing. I’ve seen it a couple times now and besides a few wonky CGI effects and a stray random cliché or three, I think it’s a clever, bracing mind-screw that one could easily get lost in if they allow themselves to.