I've been looking forward to seeing Aaron Woodley's "Rhinoceros Eyes" since its release in 2003. Five years later and I finally got my chance as it was just recently released on dvd.... finally. I had read a review on the film that had heightened my expectations. Were they met? Absolutely.
Rhinoceros Eyes is a fantastical coming-of-age story revolving around Chep (Michael Pitt), a young, reclusive prop-house employee who falls in love with a detail-obsessed movie production designer named Fran (Paige Turco). Fran's need for authentic props sends Chep to great and questionable lengths as he tries to satisfy her requests, and ultimately...win her heart.
Pitt's performance is absolutely stellar as the idiot savant playing a recluse in the prop shop unwilling to leave it's safety and the fantasy world it is. After meeting his love interest, Chep's line between what is real and what is not rapidly deteriorates. He is unable to distinguish what is actually happening and what is in his head. Living in a warehouse of props doesn't help the situation as the props begin to form into some sort of living creature (done through some fantastic prop animation) that trys to convince Chep of what he must do. It's interesting to watch the transformation of the "prop creature" grow larger and more human-like as Chep dives further and further into the fantasy world. This "prop creature" also bears a lot of resemblance to the bunny in Donnie Darko and the voice actually sounds quite similar.
A very odd and rewarding experience. Much of this movie also reminded me of another one of my favorite's; "Buddy Boy". For my taste, everything in this movie was done right. It has elements of horror, drama, fantasy, thriller, and mystery. It's all there and put together quite well with great performances all around. The setting, lighting and direction are all top notch. Highly recommended to those of you that like your films a bit on the odd side.
Oh, and by the way, there is the best Halloween mask i have ever seen in this movie and the director uses it so so well. The look on the masks face is absolutely perfect for the parts in which it is worn and absolutely hilarious at the same time.