Blind, directed by Marcel Waltz and written by Joe Knetter, a film about a recently blinded actress and her violent psychopathic stalker, is weak in plot but exploitative in the way good horror should be. It taps into instinctual fears regarding the loss of vision and forces us to participate in its killer’s deranged voyeurism.
Following a botched laser eye surgery, Faye (Sarah French), a famous Hollywood actress, is left completely blind and unable to work. Her life now consists of attending group therapy sessions and mourning the loss of her eyesight in her sleek and secluded home nestled in the hills of Hollywood. The two people closest to Faye are Sophia (Caroline Williams), a fellow blind woman and personal confidant, and Luke (Tyler Gallant), the mute leader of their therapy group who harbors secret feelings for Faye.
Blind starts slow, cutting between Faye’s daily breakdowns and disturbing sequences of her masked stalker, Pretty Boy (Jed Rowen), poking the eyes out of dolls in a neon-lit basement. The first half of the film builds atmosphere and introduces us to the story’s underlying juxtaposition between fantasy and reality. We watch Faye’s deeply unsettling dreams and shudder at Pretty Boy’s slow-dance fantasies. Thomas Rist’s highly sensuous cinematography makes these stylized sequences quite intoxicating, while Waltz’s emphasis on mood, atmosphere, colour, and pacing imbues the entire film with a heady surrealism.
Unfortunately, not every one of Waltz’s stylistic choices sticks. For example, I found the film’s soundtrack – which is key to the overall aesthetic – to be overbearing and oppressive. A score that relentlessly tells us when and how to feel replaces more nuanced and strong writing.
“…Faye, a famous Hollywood actress, is left completely blind and unable to work.”
French, required to play a woman drowning in depression and self-pity, does a good job with difficult material, though her subdued and morose performance keeps Faye cold and distant from the audience. So much of the brisk runtime is afforded to Faye’s wallowing that we never actually get a sense of who she is, beyond a sulky shell of some former self.
A vivacious and headstrong Californian, Williams steals nearly every scene that she appears in. Her performance breathes life into the film as she allows Sophia’s personality to take precedence over her impairment. Faye’s blindness and Luke’s muteness, on the other hand, are instilled with a detached and almost otherworldly quality – their impairments are their personalities.
In the end, Blind eventually becomes the slasher we expected, but it never abandons its cerebral aura. This is both its strength and weakness. Waltz’s unwavering commitment to style results in a spare plot and underdeveloped characters. But it also gives way to the psychologically dense atmosphere necessary for producing the kind of visceral, hair-raising scares that actually make good horror worth watching.
Witnessing Faye blindly navigate her home, completely unable to see the grotesque Pretty Boy looming just feet away, triggers within us a borderline primal fear response – the kind brought on by experiencing heightened states of vulnerability. These genuinely unsettling moments, as well as the bold and divisive ending, compensate for the narrative shortcomings found in Blind. They, alongside the stylish directing and intense performances, help set this disturbing tale of ‘blind love’ apart from other, more forgettable, indie slashers.
"…visceral, hair-raising scares..."