In All Eyes, we follow Allen, a disgraced podcast host trying to make a comeback and dodge a pending lawsuit by taking up the offer to interview Don, a curmudgeonly widower claiming a monster dwells within the forest next to his farm.
Before we dive into the real meat of the movie, let’s get one thing out of the way first. While presented as a monster movie, All Eyes feels more like a dramedy only with, well, a monster. That’s not a bad thing, however. If anything, that’s actually its strongest aspect.
While we do see a bit of the creature and learn pieces of the mystery surrounding it, by the time we get to that point, you’ll have fallen so in love with the characters and their stories that you won’t even care. That’s not to say the creature design isn’t fantastic or that its mystique isn’t captivating, but more that it will play second fiddle in your heart to Allen and Don’s journeys.
One last quick note on the monster, but there’s a reason the movie is called All Eyes. Besides the more narratively driven theme of how Allen’s entire fanbase watching him fall apart affects his mental health, it also ties in deeply with the beastly cryptid. Without giving too much away, you will not be disappointed with what you see.
This is one of those rare few movies where the characters defy expectations to the point where you may feel a little guilty for judging them before you really get to know them. From first impressions, we expect Allen to be a narcissistic jerk who cares about nothing other than getting more viewers. We expect Don to be little more than a spiteful old man. These assumptions, though, despite being understandable, would be wrong.
What may have easily come across as stereotypical archetypes instead feel like real, flesh and blood people. They are human beings with flaws and pain who are trying their hardest to do their best. As individuals, they’re relatable and compelling, but it’s their relationship where they really shine. Seeing the two bond and grow together is heart-warming and may possibly make your eyes start leaking against your will.
It especially helps that the performances from both actors inject even more empathy into already human characters. On paper, Allen and Don are solid enough, but it’s the performances that truly bring the best parts of them to life. Nothing with either of them ever feels forced but rather completely and utterly effortless.
Much of the actual horror of the movie comes from its setting and atmosphere. Don’s farm is isolated in the middle of nowhere, and boy, it feels like it. The plains, hills, and forest surrounding his homestead seem as if to go on almost forever, giving the feeling it’s the only inhabited place left in the world.
This sense of desolation doesn’t just add to the tone but also to the characters. Each of them has, in their own way, become forcibly distanced from something they love, with the vast, empty environment acting as a reflection of their internal and external struggles.
The narrative takes twists and turns I guarantee you will not see coming. It delivers more than a few emotionally charged, gut-punching moments that will knock the breath right out of you. On the flip side, balancing out these moving moments of raw emotion are ones of genuine hilarity. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in tears one moment and laughing the next. The tonal harmony it’s able to pull off is absolutely astounding.
Interestingly enough, the movie actually has an oddly meta nature to it, one that never risks feeling obnoxious or smug. Which, on its own, is an accomplishment, but when compared to just how many other movies fail to walk that line with any semblance of grace, it becomes something to congratulate.
This leads me to its absolutely bonkers and brilliant second half, which I will say nothing of because to even hint at it may risk spoiling things I can promise you very much want to experience blind. In fact, I’ve probably already said too much, so just pretend you didn’t read that.
All Eyes wears its heart on its sleeve, like a warm hug disguised as a monster movie, something I love it dearly for. Like 2019’s After Midnight (which would make a perfect pairing), this gem of a flick is a sincere, charming little creature feature that the horror world desperately needs more of.
As just about always, there have been a lot of genuinely great genre movies released this year that have flown under the radar. As someone who has watched many of these, I can tell you right now that All Eyes is easily one of the best and brightest. Do yourself a favor, and do not miss this one.
I love horror movies almost as much as my cats. Part-time writer, full-time John Carpenter enthusiast