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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
Daniel Reininghaus
Daniel Reininghaus, Evan Eisenstadt, Robert Nolan, Danielle Barker, Kelly-Marie Murtha, Deanna L. Palazzo, Talon D. Roach
Running Time
26 Mins.

 "Eyes Beyond" Review 
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With a nearly perfect blend of horror and insight, Eyes Beyond is a harrowing and disturbing 26-minute short film written, directed by and starring Toronto Film School grad Daniel Reininghaus. Reininghaus portrays Gabriel Morales, a young man who resides with his brother, Adam (Evan Eisenstadt), in what is by most accounts a rather peaceful suburban neighborhood.

Eyes Beyond is not, however, a peaceful film. Instead, Eyes Beyond is a relentlessly thrilling film in which Gabriel inadvertently forgets his medications for Bipolar Disorder and, not surprisingly, the world that envelopes him is both physically and psychologically brutal.

When the Morales Brothers invite their neighbors, the Rogers family, over for dinner, it's impossible to imagine the events that will unfold as Henry Rogers (Robert Nolan), his wife Vivian (Kelly-Marie Murtha) and their daughter Abigaile (Danielle Barker) seemingly endure the unimaginable wrath of a mind that may very well be collapsing within.

Eyes Beyond is the kind of film that challenges one's cinematic sensibilities, a raw and honest blend of everything horror with enough true psychological insight to justify it all.

Or does it?

There are scenes in Eyes Beyond that are unquestionably disturbing and, yet, there's no denying that the mind of an individual with Bipolar Disorder can be equally as disturbing, frightening and tauntingly hopeless. What unfolds in Eyes Beyond is disturbing because, in reality, it SHOULD be disturbing.

There will be those who will view Eyes Beyond and will consider the film not much more than exploitation. To dismiss the film would be an injustice. While there are brief moments, and lingering moments, that feel like exploitation, there's an underlying intentionality in the words, images and framework of Eyes Beyond that keeps it from ever crossing the line into exploitation.

Written with what, at times, appears to be a sense of sadistic glee by Reininghaus, Eyes Beyond is unapologetically brutal and uncomfortably suspenseful as we watch the ever increasing psychological gymnastics between the Morales Brothers and the family next door.

The ensemble cast is stellar across the board, capturing to near perfection the uncertainty of the situation and all the fear and survival instincts that one might expect in such a scenario.  Michael Jari Davidson's camera work gives the film an aura similar to Michael Haneke's Funny Games, another relentlessly brutal psychological thriller. Maurizio Rossetto's original score is appropriately chilling, while the film's editing by Navin Ramaswaran is a seesaw of both lingering and quickly edited shots.

In a mere 26 minutes, Reininghaus manages to create more intrigue, chills, thrills and disturbing images than most filmmakers can create in a full-length feature. While one can certainly argue the merit of such a relentlessly brutal approach for a film about mental illness, one cannot possibly argue that Eyes Beyond is a frightening and unforgettable film that will leave the viewer pondering its images and messages long after the closing credits have rolled.

Having already played in more than 11 film festivals, including the International Film Festival South Africa and the more recent Twin Rivers Media Film Festival, Eyes Beyond is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Visit the film's website above for more information!