‘All Eyes’ Is The Best Recent Indie Horror Film You’ve Never Seen [Review]
Most of the indie films I watch are sent to me, so I have a pretty sizable library of films to occupy my time. However, sometimes I just like to dip into one of the hundred streaming services out there and see what I can find. In this case, it was Tubi, where the pickings are usually somewhere between “undercooked” and “overdone”. But occasionally something comes along that’s so good, I can’t help but just talk about it to whoever I can back into a corner, real or digital.
Believe me when I say this film does not only that, but also may be one of the best indie films I’ve seen in the last year. Blood Babes, Fright Fiends—direct your gaze to Todd Greenlee’s All Eyes!
Seriously, this flick caught me off guard, not unlike Rocko Zevenbergen’s I Need You Dead did last year.
In All Eyes,
“A disgraced podcast host interviews an eccentric farmer who claims to have a monster living in the woods near his house.”
After watching the trailer, I felt I had a good idea for what I was getting into—a creature feature about two guys that don’t like each other teaming up to fight some sort of forest-dwelling, multi-eyed beast. Sounds like a solid flick. I’d love to see it one day, because this isn’t it.
I don’t like to spoil movies too much, especially ones that I think are worth watching. So consider this a heads-up that this discussion will be a bit vague. Honestly, going into this feature blind is the best approach.
It all starts with a podcast host named Allen, who—due to an absence of any better judgment—accidentally broadcasts a horrific event during a live stream. This succeeds in not only getting him fired, but also tanking his career overnight. In an attempt at a comeback, he reluctantly agrees to report on a story regarding Don, an unhinged rancher living in the middle of nowhere. Don claims that he’s going to hunt and kill a monster, with Allen as his witness to the slaughter.
While starting off as the usual monster movie fare, it doesn’t take long to transition into something of a bit more introspective nature. It does mean it’s more of a slow burn than the trailer suggests. The center stage is occupied by the budding relationship between our two leads as they go about their excursion.
The acting caught me off-guard, with Jasper Hammer and Ben Hall providing a believability to their roles that I don’t often see in similar low-budget flicks. These two steal the show, which may not sound like much praise since they’re pretty much the only characters in the film. But, they manage to make every moment they’re on screen count.
Don (Hall) manages to keep ahold of the spotlight as a gruff, unadjusted rancher dealing with the loss of his wife the only way he knows how—by making elaborate traps to kill a forest-dwelling monster in front of her favorite podcaster, just like they teach in 4-H. What is this monster? Why does Don want to kill it? Do these questions really matter? Depending on who you are as a person, you might be disappointed with what revelations are given… or the lack thereof.
Personally, I’d argue that the answer to that last question is those details don’t matter. One of the apparent themes explored is grief, and how we cope with it. Some of us close off from the world, others fill their minds with work, and the rest find monsters to hunt by utilizing various types of boobytraps placed on their property. Yes, we spend more time watching Don process his feelings than any actual monster hunting. But that’s not to say it’s any less impactful. He’s a broken man, holding onto any bit of his wife left behind, whether it’s well-hidden greeting cards she left around the house, or her favorite, snobby podcast host.
Speaking of which, I was surprised with how much I ended up liking said podcaster, Allen (Hammer). I’m sure how he reminds me of Jay Bauman from Red Letter Media has nothing to do with it. When he’s first introduced, he comes off as an absolute prick. But, he becomes more likable as he goes through the many trials and tribulations he’s subjected to. In a way, his story ties into that whole grief thing I was talking about, even though Allen’s case differs quite a bit from Don’s. Allen is mourning the potential death of his career due to his own reckless actions, which is a tad (read: WAY) more selfish than a hermit miring the love of his life’s passing.
After indulging in the expected self-pity, Allen decides to head back to work with the slim hope of reversing the damage he’s done. An act of bargaining, if you will. However, through his venture, he does grow as a person. It’s just not in the easy way he’d hoped for.
That brings us to the conflict our heroes find themselves in, which you’ll be forgiven for thinking is pretty self-explanatory. I thought so, too. I mean, there’s a monster and people want to kill it. Done deal, right? Well… kind of. This flick wears the guise of a Creature Feature. It draws fans like me in before whacking the bat of subversion against their skull, sending them flying in a direction of heart-to-heart conversations and external bodily harm, before landing back into the field of familiarity with a multi-eyed beastie to end it on. Think “escape room, but there’s also a monster”.
When all is said and done, I feel this film is a treat. One of those instances where I went in expecting the usual fare, and ended up unearthing a real treasure. Now all that’s left is to get it out of the woods…
You can check out All Eyes digitally right here!
Until next time…
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