Eyes Beyond (2010) – By Josh Samford

The short form feature is something that so often has been dominated by simple character studies that more or less work in the form of a cinematic experiment. Although I have had challenging shorts come across my door step, more often than not the experimentation comes simply from a director who is working on their confidence rather than attempting to do something challenging or different with cinema as a whole. However, when these transgressive and disturbing little features cross my desk they are more often than not the better made and more engaging watches for an audience to experience. Eyes Beyond is a short feature written and directed by young filmmaker Daniel Reininghaus, who also stars in a lead role. The title came to me by the experience had with actor Robert Nolan and the review written for his previous starring vehicle Worm. Nolan, who I liked very much in Worm, proves once again a knack for picking interesting projects as Eyes Beyond is about as far removed from conventional as one could possibly get. A disturbing and harrowing journey into the mind, Eyes Beyond sets itself apart by its sheer brutality and willingness to go in directions others simply wouldn’t.

Eyes Beyond tells the story of one fateful evening and the horrors that befall a family as they are trapped and tortured by madmen. The Rogers family are an outgoing family unit who are looking to spread their good will as they make a visit to their next door neighbors. The two young men who come to the door are brothers, one a carpenter and one a chef, form the idyllic and peaceful picture of brotherly love. As the dinner plays out however, it comes to fruition that their dinner has been tampered with and the Rogers family pass out only to awake and find out that these two "brothers" are not what they seem. What follows is a horrifying tale of brutality, vengeance and madness.

There is no getting past the fact that Eyes Beyond seems to be influenced by Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, as the aforementioned brothers seem quite similar to the tormentor’s that made Haneke’s film so utterly difficult to tolerate. However, the differences are massive as the pair here are much more vulgar than the classy youths that were on display in Haneke’s feature. So, if you throw a little August Underground in the mix, you would begin to understand just what direction this feature takes us in. There is a great deal of violence and horror dished out in this twenty minute short feature! The abominations on display are pitch black in their execution and the director doesn’t give us a chance to clear our heads from the savagery. Scene after scene is decorated with the screams of one family member as another is tortured in front of the other. The concept is brutal and disheartening by itself, but the execution is unreal.

Eyes Beyond is not perfect however. There were things that didn’t work for me, in terms of the plot and a couple of big twists that come about towards the end. The filmmakers seem sincere in their attempt to bring light to the issue of mental illness, but at the same time one thinks that you don’t have to smash your audience over the head with a hammer in order for them to understand how serious such an issue is. As a piece of transgressive genre filmmaking however, I think the project is very successful and certainly shows a great deal of promise from the filmmakers. If you get the chance to see this, I highly recommend you search it out. If short pieces of disgusting horror such as Nekro can develop a rather small but fervent niche, I’m sure there are some others would find Eyes Beyond quite an interesting piece of cinematic expression. You can read more about the film and order a copy from the official website at: http://www.eyesbeyondmovie.com