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Nine-year-old Lisa discovers her sinister new friend is the ghost of the dead twin of Lisa's mother. Lisa's father also begins to suspect his wife of hiding a terrible secret, resulting in deadly consequences... Written by
Good blend of supernatural and psychological terror
The Dutch haven't made many horror films. When asked to list the ones he knew of, director Elbert van Strien said there were only five, although he could only recall the names of two of them. In other words, Holland is not well represented in this genre. The only other significant film in this area was the 1988 film The Vanishing; although not a bona fide horror film, it certainly was disturbing enough. Two Eyes Staring is, however, an unashamed horror film, seeing as its subject matter concerns ghosts and malevolent secrets from the past. And although it may not contain anything that exactly breaks the mould, it does succeed in providing some very effective and memorable scare scenes.
The story is basically about a couple and their little girl, Lisa, who move into a large house left by a recently deceased grandmother. The said grandparent was decidedly distant from her daughter and once in the stately home all manner of dark secrets begin to surface via Lisa, who continually sees a ghost of a tragic little girl. These events lead to a serious breakdown in the family with tragic consequences.
Elbert van Strien has put together a very good ghost story here. He is helped ably by a small but good cast of actors. Especially fine were Isabelle Stokkel as Lisa, who puts in a great performance for such a young actress, but Hadewych Minis possibly steals the show as Christine, the mother; the two standout fright scenes in the film directly involve her. The first one sees Lisa awake in the night to see her mother staring down at her in a highly sinister way, while the second, and best, standout scene has Lisa witness her mother in the dead of night rabidly destroying her own artwork with a large kitchen knife, she then turns on her daughter with an extremely malevolent look on her face and attacks. In both of these simple but very well-executed sequences Hadewych Minis is truly terrifying. Alongside these well-crafted scenes, Two Eyes Staring also has a number of definite jump moments and the overall atmosphere is decidedly off-kilter. Although this is a ghost story it is also as much as anything about psychologically damaged people. This of course means that it is disturbing on two levels.
This is a fine blend of both supernatural and psychological horror. As I said earlier, it doesn't really deliver anything especially new to the genre. Nevertheless, it actually works as a horror film in that it frightens and occasionally surprises. And this is much more than most films of its type achieve. Apparently, but sadly unsurprisingly, this Dutch movie is going to be remade in America, despite not even having been released beyond the festival circuit yet, so all I can say is see it before this happens.
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