Fatal fashion

Ezequiel Endelman on glamour, giallo and an imaginary Buenos Aires in Crystal Eyes

by Jennie Kermode

Cutting to the quick in Crystal Eyes
Cutting to the quick in Crystal Eyes

A model so hot that she bursts into flames on the runway. A tribute show planned one year later. A mysterious black-gloved killer disposing of the participants one by one. Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano's playful postmodern giallo, Crystal Eyes (Mirada De Cristal), is bound to entertain genre fans at Frightfest, not least because it packs so many in-jokes and so many murders into just 82 minutes. Ezequiel spared a few minutes to tell me about the film and the fun involved in creating the high fashion world in which it's set.

"Crystal Eyes was planned to be the third episode of a web-series we started filming in 2014 (No Podràs Dormir Esta Noche, or You Won't Sleep Tonight)," he says. "Each episode was supposed to pay homage to a different horror genre. We always love Giallo movies -their vibrant palette, the masked killer who seem unearthly, the beautiful women with extravagant fashions- so we went for it.

Dresses to die for
Dresses to die for

"After the shooting of some scenes, and by the advice of a friend, it evolved into a feature film.

"About the subject of the film, our first idea was to make a story about an investigation of a prostitute killer. But then we watched Return to Eden and loved it so we changed it and set it in the glamorous fashion world of the Eighties."

Between the film's visual style, its clothes and hairstyles, no-one could mistake the period setting.

"Yes, the movie is set in a imaginary 1985 Buenos Aires. Most of the things we do are set in the Eighties as that's our favourite decade since forever, followed by the Seventies.

"We like iconic images, and we are suckers for aesthetics, and think nothing can top those eras from that perspective. We found joy in an Eighties phone or an Eighties home because of how they look and we found joy in the challenge of recreating another era. Modern stuff doesn't do it for us."

I ask about the giallo references and how they approached fitting them into an Argentinian context.

"When we decided to do a neo giallo, we always knew it was going to be set in Buenos Aires and give the story an Argentinian flavour but from our point of view and from what we like. We enjoy doing homages but giving them a twist to make them refreshing. Buenos Aires is a very Europe-influenced city, so that fitted like a black leather glove."

On the set of Crystal Eyes
On the set of Crystal Eyes

The film is also notable for its high body count. Weren't they worried about running out of suspects?

"The identity of the killer was a huge thing to us," he says. "We didn't want to give clues that could give away its identity. We liked to think of every character as a potential suspect. Our main influence during the days we wrote the script was Scooby Doo!"

In a key scene in the film, we see a book in a drawer - a Spanish language copy of Alfred Hitchcock-branded anthology Stories Not For The Nervous. Where did it come from?

"That book was Leandro's. It was a book he found in an abandoned store. Since 'giallo' means yellow in Italy, because of the yellow cover crime books, we thought it would be nice to make a nod to that (one of the books has a yellow cover).

"The short stories in themselves have no reference in our movie. We thought of the books as the way Nadia and Nidia, the mysterious Ukrainian twins, learned Spanish."

The film has a very dramatic score and uses a lot of Eighties-style high energy pop. I ask how they went about choosing that.

"Music has always been an essential part of what we do. A great score can make your movie 100% better. For this movie, every song is original. For the score we worked with Pablo Fuu, who did an amazing job. He's the best there is. We sent him the edited scenes with some music references and he made his magic. To hear his work for the first time, going hand in hand with the images, was tear-inducing.

Getting the look
Getting the look

"About the main song, we worked with Diana Maria, an incredibly talented and famous singer from Argentina, using Mina Mazzini's songs as references. Both the lyrics and the music were specially composed for Crystal Eyes."

What did they enjoy most about creating the film?

"We both agree that creating a new world from zero is what most excites us. Thinking about the characters and their look, their homes, the scenery. Seeing everything come to life the way we imagined It even not having a big budget at all, is the best feeling. Besides this, working with so many talented actresses and actors was a very fulfilling thing."

How do they feel about being selected for Frightfest?

"We still can't believe it. We are two friends from Argentina who wanted to do a movie, and having such an important festival interested in our work is out of this world! We are thrilled and can't wait for the screenings there!"

And what's next for them? Will there be further film ventures.

"So far, we are still working on the promotion of Crystal Eyes. It's an independent movie, so the work never ends!

"We have two movie ideas which we are working on, one of them being an anthology movie and the other, the second part of Crystal Eyes. We'll see where the flow takes us!"

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