A director like Elbert van Strien fills a (Dutch) film lover with hope. After seeing only a fraction of his work, it is clear that there are also filmmakers in small, cold, frog country with a visual persuasiveness and a gift for creating atmospheric, imaginative images that stay with the viewer and get under the skin. You only need to watch one of his short films – such as “The Hidden Face”, “Forbidden Eyes”, or “World of Stillness”, to realize that great talent has emerged here. Someone who dares to throw himself into the genre film and who knows how to rise above it. His films often have a surrealistic connotation, and his style is reminiscent of the work of greats such as David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock. Not only the art direction, the camera work and the music of his films are special, they are also often intriguing thematically. “Two Eyes Staring”, Van Strien’s first real feature, is therefore cause for great excitement. Because would he also manage to come up with context for his attractive visual style that will fascinate and amaze for just under two hours? Not quite (yet), unfortunately.
As expected – and hoped for – “Black Water” is often a joy to watch and Van Strien has several times proven to be a master of evoking a dreamy, uncomfortable, exciting, and downright scary atmosphere. It can be seen that his fingers have had to itch over the years to subject the general public to his penetrating, terrifying set-ups. One troubling moment after another takes place as the – not so perfect – family enters the stately, mysterious home of Christine’s late mother. Van Strien clearly masters the cinematic techniques to terrify his audience. As a director of genre films, he is not inferior to his colleagues from Japan, Korea or America. Yet something is missing.
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