MacGuffin Film Review – Golden Earrings

Golden Earrings – A Review

You’ve got to be careful when it comes to making popcorn.  If you put it in the microwave and time it too long, you’re going to get a scorching bag full of burnt food that is certainly not enjoyable to eat.  However, if you time it too short, you’re going to have a bunch of un-popped kernels, and everyone knows how disheartening it is when you have to re-heat already cooked popcorn.  Getting the perfect microwave timing is an art form all in itself.

Oh, by the way, Golden Earrings (2010) is an independent love story disguised as a horror film.  Sure, you got the normal tricks and gags seen in many other horror movies: the spooky music, the creaky opening doors, props that move and show up in unexpected places.  Beneath it all, though, the heart of the film is the love story between the lead character Ronnie  (Julia Marchese) and her roommate Sara (Marion Kerr, who also writes and directs).  The relationship between these two characters is what drives the barely existent plot.  Despite what is apparent on the surface, the bond that they have may go slightly deeper than either of them would want to admit.

You know what I enjoy the most along with popcorn?  Most people would go with a soda, which is definitely a good choice, but for me, I love having a slurpee.  I’m not sure why, but I really enjoy chugging down a nice Coke-flavored slurpee to wash down the saltiness of my just eaten popcorn, it’s a very efficient combo.  Slurpees are a drink that you can only have when you’re watching a movie by yourself, though.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a movie theater and had to sit through someone sucking up the last bit of slurpee from their cup, or moving their straw up and down, making that really loud squeaking noise.  Man, do I hate that sound.

We open the film with Ronnie and Sara having a get together with a handful of their friends.  Soon in to the party, Sara has to leave to visit her mother, which is kind of rude being that she has guests in her apartment, or rude to her mother that she would have a party, knowing that she agreed to see her at 8: 00am the following morning, but whatever.  In a near tearful goodbye, Ronnie sees Sara off in a touching scene out on the stairwell.  Ronnie lays her head oh so gingerly on Sara’s shoulder, they look longingly in to each other’s eyes; Sara asks Ronnie if she’ll be ok all by herself.  We assume that Ronnie will be fine.  Besides, she has pictures of Sara right next to her bed that she falls asleep to every night, not creepy at all.  Goodness gracious, is this how they say goodbye to each other if one of them goes to the grocery store?

After this heartfelt farewell, Sara returns to the party, and decides to spice things up by having everyone play on a Quiji board.  Has there ever been a time in movies where good things happen after characters do this?  During their séance, Ronnie and the rest of the group realize that the spirit they have contacted is that of Sara, who apparently died in a car crash pulling out of the driveway.  Ronnie immediately goes in to freak out mode, accusing anyone and everyone of messing with the board and playing around with her newly abandoned heart.

Crap!  My popcorn is still in the microwave!  Be right back…

(5 minutes later)

Damn, burnt to a crisp.

What follows is a story involving Ronnie battling the ghost of Sara, Ronnie trying to convince her friends that she isn’t going crazy, a record player that doesn’t know the definition of “variety,” and that darn Quiji board that just won’t stay where it belongs.  There are a few elements that I will give the film credit for.  It does do a good job at creating mood.  The dark shadows, camera angles, and the music that is played in the film are very effective.  Kerr, when creating the nightmarish sequences, does so in a way that works in creating anticipation and anxiety in the viewer.  There is a particular scene by the pool where the editing, sound, and frame composition makes it stand out as a memorable scene.

That popcorn malfunction is still bugging me.  After writing a paragraph all about the intricacies of microwave timing, I go and do a blunder like that?  How embarrassing.  Ok, let’s try this again with the last bag I have…

As her first independent feature, Marion Kerr has to be commended for writing and directing a film with little to no money, having it set almost entirely in one place, and creating mood with small and practical effects.  However, there are a number of issues I had with the film.  The writing felt stilted, which prevented the dialogue from having a natural feel.  The acting was stiff and not very believable; at the most emotional moments I didn’t believe that the actors were truly feeling those emotions, but rather holding back and never quite going all the way.  Although the mood and anxiety the film created was effective, it was dissipated by lackluster payoffs, every potential scare felt like a fake out.  In regard to the relationship between Ronnie and Sara, it was developed in a way that made it seem like it was more than just friendship.  I can understand that Kerr wanted to make the Ronnie character manic-obsessive and clingy to Sara, but we never really understood why that was, and why Sara apparently went along with her instead of trying to deal with it.  And finally, the film attempts one of the hardest things to do in movies, the twist ending.  It’s very difficult to pull off a believable twist ending to a film, and although the one here is interesting, by the time it comes the film has already lost us.

Golden Earrings is a movie that showcases a lot of promise of its filmmaker.  Marion Kerr demonstrated here that she can make a film with a limited amount of resources, and despite the film not working over all, I hope she gets the chance to use this as a stepping stone to bigger and better things…

Final Grade: C

Oh, crap!  The popcorn!

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