The short film Climb into Your Eyes epitomizes excellent independent filmmaking. Co-writters Zach DePolo and Trey Lane, the latter serving as the film’s director, turned a $200 film budget (I am not missing zeroes) into a 16-minute haunted masterpiece that plays with the familiar horror-religious tropes. The story focuses on the cryptic intentions of JC Montgomery, an elder man seemingly residing in the seediest of motels, waiting for an unsuspecting prostitute to occupy his decrepit existence. His intentions, however, are not sex, but his desires are arguably sexual, fulfilling a spiritual need guided by what could only be a perverse biblical prophesy. In the space of such a short film, Lane and DePolo manage to unpack ideas of moral Christianity from the plot’s unraveling to its exciting and climactic ending.
Without spoiling plot machinations, one only needs to know Montgomery is masking what even an audience would perceive as the lonely and “dirty old man” soliciting young prostitutes to his bedside. Despite the motel’s decaying interiors, the ubiquitous hotel-supplied King James Bible is Montgomery’s crutch, signifying (perhaps) his need for forgiveness before the act of sinning. But we soon learn through this scene, and similar acts in later settings, that Montgomery is choosing “fates,” an ironic symbolism if considering the beauty of the prostitutes resembling the Greek fates; and, of course, destiny.
The fate of Montgomery’s “fates” serves also as an apt metaphor of our God-driven anti-hero’s affliction; he is a man literally haunted by the ghosts of these women. Beautifully sculpted make-up and design had me jumping at the sight of these apparitions. By the film’s final scenes, the hauntings become more visceral, staging the most unusual and visually stimulating use of a bible. (Hint: What would it look like to literally eat your words?)
When watching this film, turn up the volume. The eerie score compounds the darkness of a landscape that blends Southern Gothic with Edgar Allen Poe. And the direction of Lane manages to take a frenetic subject and slow it down, to a degree that allows viewers to taste the chaos as if it were spoon fed in slow motion. It’s a film I will not forget.
Eric Dinsmore | Twitter: @dinsmorality