Shut Eye 2


This Festival Seems Fun

Main Cast: Lauren Cooney, Isaac Tomiczek

Director: Lauren Cooney

SHUT EYE 2, now that’s more like it.  This is the movie SHUT EYE should have been.  We’ve got characters with names and personalities, we’ve got a through-line, a climax, a STORY.  The energy is frenetic, the split screen adds to the storytelling.  I loved pretty much everything about this movie.

But what is it?

Coming in at 8:40, SHUT EYE 2 is a metafiction where the writer/director of the first SHUT EYE, Lauren Cooney, and her writing partner Isaac Tomiczek head to Wilmington, NC for the Cucaloras Film Festival.  There’s tension between the two almost immediately as Isaac takes the nice apartment the festival offers, leaving Lauren to take the less-impressive lodgings, even though she insists she was driving force behind getting their movie, SHUT EYE, made in the first place and she can’t believe he didn’t even offer to let her take the nicer place.

The next day, Lauren arrives on time for their meet-up while Isaac is twenty minutes late and hungover, and now the tensions are rising.

SHUT EYE 2 chronicles their stay in Wilmington, the festival as well as their post-festival celebration, the bars, the drugs, and the fights that ensue as a result.  Cooney uses a lot of split-screen to show us two parts of the story at once, for example she’s in the bathroom telling the camera how Isaac is being so weird and after the festival she doesn’t want to see him again while on the other side of the screen, Isaac is shown beating a man to death with a pool cue.

Through a music montage we see clips of several fights they’ve had while in Wilmington, both physical and verbal, there’s violence and blood and drugs and everything devolves into chaos and eventually we have no idea what’s real and what’s not.  In one screen, Isaac is seen lying bloody on the ground after one of their arguments, while on the other side of the screen, we see Isaac slam Lauren’s head into the window of a parked car with two people making out inside it.  SHUT EYE 2 was nuts.

The downside here would be anyone coming in expecting a true sequel to SHUT EYE is going to be disappointed.  This is not fiction, it’s metafiction, so a continuation of the “story” from the first movie is out the window.  And judging from many of the comments on the film’s YouTube page, a whole lot of people are not getting it.

Personally, I thought it was awesome.  While keeping with the idea of drug-addled frenzy, or maybe drug-induced violence, SHUT EYE 2 continues the first film’s theme of playing with perceptions of reality, but this time in a more satisfying way, and we get an ending!  The ending is ambiguous considering what’s come before, but the film ends with a moment of calm reflection, with a very large undercurrent of barely-contained stress.

Clearly, SHUT EYE 2 is not for everyone.  Me, though, I really dug it and it’s done what the first SHUT EYE couldn’t, made me want to see more from the Cooney/Tomiczek team.

Watch SHUT EYE 2 free on YouTube

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