Posted on September 15, 2010 by Jason Thorson
Eyes Beyond is an independent short film starring, written and directed by Canadian filmmaker, Daniel Reininghaus. Many movies that share its level of independence have glaring problems; however, Eyes Beyond emerges as a surprisingly superior romp through depravity.
The film’s premise, without giving too much away, is as follows: Brothers, Adam (Evan Eisnstadt) and Gabriel Morales (Daniel Reininghaus) invite their neighbors over for dinner. As members of the Rogers family, Henry (Robert Nolan), Abigaile (Danielle Barker), and Vivian (Kelly-Marie Murtha), make themselves comfortable and conversation ensues, things quickly spin out of control – way out of control. But things are rarely as they seem.
Eyes Beyond does a lot of things very well. First and foremost, it looks and sounds fantastic. The film’s technical attributes are very polished. Cinematographer, Michael Jari Davidson capably captures dynamic shots – warm and primary colors against white backgrounds, lush green-lined yards with depth, dim natural light, bright artificial light, etc – with the same consistency and quality one expects in projects boasting much higher budgets. The sound mix, recorded in relatively affordable Dolby SR, is similarly high in quality and consistency. The soundscape is clear and full, sporting an impressive dynamic range with very little noise pollution.
The caliber of acting in Eyes Beyond is superior as well. In 26 short minutes, Eyes Beyond places its characters in extreme situations, the worst of which take place almost immediately. Subsequently, the cast is asked to perform behaviors and emotions that reside at the most remote reaches of the human condition. And while subtlety in acting is extraordinarily difficult, the same can be said of sheer terror and lunacy. By and large the entire cast is up to the task, particularly this project’s ring leader, Daniel Reininghaus, whose representation of Gabriel requires the greatest range.
The one place Eyes Beyond stumbles is in the story department – a predictable sore spot for many indie projects of this nature. While most films with story issues fall apart in the third act, Eyes beyond has the opposite problem. The plot is disjointed and immediately disengaging. The film starts with an extremely violent setpiece, a la the culmination scenes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only here the macabre dinner party lacks motivation because Reininghaus never defines a protagonist or what’s at stake. The ending is a twist after which it becomes clear that everything leading up to it is merely there to serve said twist.
Admittedly, though, Eyes Beyond is much more coherent and interesting in retrospect than it is when being viewed in real time and this is a problem that could have been fixed with some basic structural revisions. In essence, the plot of Eyes Beyond isn’t served well by opting to emphasize form over function.
Overall Eyes Beyond is a success, especially regarding the technical aspects of its production, and it clearly showcases the potential of everyone involved.
3 out of 5 Flames
Review by Jason Thorson