When a journalist has the breaking story of a lifetime, he discovers all is not well. Not only is there the looming threat of powerful people who may squash him like a bug, but he has also become stuck and unable to leave his bed under supernatural force. No amount of struggle seems to matter as he has become trapped in the gaze of The Eyes Below (2022). The second part of a thematic trilogy based on the idea of “a character, a place, a story” began with The Woman with Leopard Shoes (2020) and is set to be continued with Point de Fuite in 2023.

The Eyes Below Film Review

Although this will not be a movie for everyone, those who do enjoy the innovative approach will love it, and many more will appreciate the technical achievement it represents. However, be forewarned: this is a 75-minute-long experimental piece that has zero lines of dialogue – more the product of arthouse trends over the usual cinematic expectations. Set almost entirely in one room (despite the fact that the boundaries of that room become significantly strange at times), The Eyes Below is an extremely reductionist production. With only three members of the cast and crew named on the IMDB page, most work is carried out by an all-in-one writer, producer, director, director of photography, sound designer, composer, AND editor that is Alexis Bruchon. Pauline Morel takes on a few production roles, as well as being one of only two actors, but the majority of the workload has been taken on by Bruchon alone. Yet, considering how stripped down all roles are, and in context of a film-in-a-bottle effort with an eye for keeping costs down, The Eyes Below is wall-to-wall energetic, demonstrating bold cinematography that wastes no time getting started. Innovative in its execution, as well as artistically powerful in its use of colour and high contrast darkness, the minimalism of the production is both a strength and a weakness. While they have little to work with, the tiny team does an outstanding job through their constraints.

In only a matter of minutes, The Eyes Below begins throwing some creepy imagery at the audience, but this feature appears more interested in anxiety than standard jump scares. However, the film isn’t above throwing the odd one in there, but fear is coming from anticipation and background details lurking with ill intent, not to mention oppressive levels of surrealism presented throughout. As with the rest of the shoot, they’re working with little in the way of resources to make their scares work, but they’re wringing every last drop of potential out of their material limitations. Part fear of the dark, part night terror realised on film; it also cultivates a confusion over what may or may not be happening that is oppressive in its own right.

The Eyes Below 2022

The dreamlike quality apparent in The Eyes Below delivers a strong chance of becoming future nightmare fuel for its audience. Unfortunately, as impressive as the arthouse style is, the film lacks substantial content for a feature-length movie. It could happily have ended after half an hour for the same impact, if not more given that it risks losing some viewers from being so drawn out for such a simple concept. Regardless, The Eyes Below does manage to pivot in different directions to keep the premise interesting, transitioning from a visualised night terror to intense dream logic surrealism, proceeding into a pretty wild finale which is a departure from the setup that still manages to make use of the earlier established narrative through innovative techniques.

It is, however, possible to be both objectively impressive and subjectively an unsatisfying watch. Come into The Eyes Below knowing you’re in for an unusual feature without dialogue, revolving around one man in a bed, and little else in terms of scope. For what it is, it is an interesting viewing experience just to see how Bruchon has done it, and some people are going to absolutely love the fever dream committed to film by a talented emerging genre auteur. Should you be looking for a little more action, or just character interaction, consider saving The Eyes Below for when in the right frame of mind to enjoy an experimental minimalist showcase. When you are in the right frame of mind, you will find a surprising amount to enjoy here for three people filming in/on/around one bed for a little over an hour. The achievement alone of making so much with so little is worth adding The Eyes Below to your watchlist, and Alexis Bruchon is a name to definitely follow into the future.

We watched The Eyes Below (2022) at FrightFest

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