Open Your Eyes was conceived in April of 2020 by writer/director Greg A. Sager (Grey Matter, Kingdom Come) as a project that could be shot under local health regulations that specified no more than five people in a group. By late May it was in production, giving him and the film’s small crew something to do while much of the film industry was at a standstill. Does the film succeed despite the rushed schedule and small cast? Or should the results be quarantined?
Jason Miller (Ry Barrett, The Demolisher, The Final Ride) is a screenwriter. Like all writers in the movies, he’s got writer’s block. That isn’t the worst of his problems though. Something is obviously eating at him, he’s drinking heavily and suffering from nightmares. We don’t know what happened but it seems to be connected to a ghostly woman that appears in his bedroom.
As if that wasn’t enough lights in his apartment keep flickering, a nasty fluid of some sort is oozing down the walls and someone is knocking on his door and disappearing. In the midst of this something seems to finally go right. He meets Lisa (Joanna Saul) who lives down the hall. But can he fight off a breakdown, finish his script and build a relationship with her? And what is with the cat living in the building’s air ducts?
Open Your Eyes is a two-character film, three if you want to count the cat. For the first half, it’s a solo show as we watch Jason get drunk, make cereal, look for his phone and stare at a laptop. I almost turned it off in the first fifteen minutes it was so incredibly dull. Thankfully things get better once the nasty-smelling shit starts oozing down his walls and Lisa comes into his life.
Even after that though, we spend way too much time watching Jason staring at his computer, pacing around, etc. I know that writing a full-length film with only two characters isn’t easy but all these scenes feel like padding to get Open Your Eyes to feature-length and repeatedly kill the flow of the film.
The last half hour is when Open Your Eyes finally comes to life. There are enough clues dropped along the way that I was able to guess much of what was coming. But then it goes somewhere unexpected. Unlike Road Head, the film’s twist feels like a part of the story, and while unexpected they do make sense. However, I can see some people rolling their eyes at the final resolution.
For a film shot with only three crew members on set and a sound person working remotely from a van, Open Your Eyes looks and sounds very good. There’s some nicely atmospheric cinematography, especially at the beginning of the last act when things start to go into the Twilight Zone.
Despite the horrendously slow start and some pacing problems, Open Your Eyes is, overall worth a watch if you like psychological films. There’s a great performance from Ry Barrett who is on screen the entire film and he’s backed up nicely by Joanna Saul as the enigmatic Lisa.