Chicago movie studio, Ave Fenix Pictures, stepped back into La Raza, a Spanish term originated in the book ‘La Raza Cosmica’ written by Jose Vasconcelos, a Mexican intellectual meaning ‘the people’ (the product of racially and culturally mixing over time, eventually into a new race that has the best attributes of all cultures) and now a new method of filmmaking proven to work with the studios first film Adios Vaya Con Dios. Ave Fenix Pictures created a social-experimental-film through relationships with an urban community, gangs and street artists, involving them throughout the movie making process. Executive Producer Monica Esmeralda Leon uses her starting line up once again; Producers Marius Iliescu and Joseph Mennella, along with her trusted Director Timothy J. Aguado. When My Eyes Go Dark is embellished in the supernatural, just as Adios Vaya Con Dios was enhanced inside real life Latino barrios with roads pointing to salvation, Ave Fenix Pictures new film centers around a spiritual journey of a man’s redemption embroidered in the culture of Brujería (witchcraft).
I was able to interview Zachary Laoutides over a Chicago cup of coffee last month. We discussed primarily his new movie ‘Love you to the Moon and Back,’ marginally mentioning the new controversial story that walks a fine line between the paranormal and what we call truth. When my Eyes go Dark develops layered storylines, showing commentary on the dangers of occultism and the manipulation of the innocent. Laoutides, writer and lead actor plays Lazaro Ruben Torres, the man who died five times and came back with the ability of clairvoyance, however he uses his ability in abusive authority, the reverse of what he is ordained to achieve after being gunned down with his daughter. We explore the early events of his life – the tragedy of his daughter that drove Lazaro to develop his gift, but yet at the same time cultivate sinful traditions and retribution. A story of what happens when one man’s eyes go dark.
The film is a four star gem and experience, unlike any scary movie that you will see in a long time, a paralleled adult bedtime story that will keep you wide-awake. The movie is art house and doesn’t fall into the typecast habits we so commonly watch in frightening films. Although some may find the film over experimental, the voices in the movie are actual alleged demonic recordings from the Archdiocese of Detroit. The story is controversially debated because the film plays into the paranormal allegory of Lazaro. In 2010 after completing seven months in rehabilitation at the Detroit Medical Center for several attempted suicides; Lazaro was hired by the Archdiocese of Detroit to aid in paranormal research and demonic activity. CAUTION: the voices in the film stayed with me the next day, they were that disturbing!
Laoutides gives a pulsing performance and makeover as Lazaro, whose emotional suffering can be credited to his counselor played methodically by Nathan Ayala. Lazaro’s early life is the starting point to his mystique. Tragically, he is randomly shot beside his daughter, played by six-year-old, little Galilea Mendoza. Lazaro is brought back to life with a paranormal talent and uses it to track down his daughter’s killer with helping hands from a Brujería (the Spanish word for witch), played by Mexican singer Amparo Sanchez, who manipulates him into the criminal occult.
Director Timothy J. Aguado with precision investigates Lazaro’s iniquities and declining soul only to be consumed by evil. We follow a younger Lazaro at times in retrospect and innocence, opposed to the older Lazaro (also played by Laoutides, whose alteration is nothing short of reverent). Concurrently, we follow two brothers whom Lazaro believes is blamable for his daughter’s death, Aaron and Mark, played by Emmanuel Isaac and Samuel Younan who both do convincing jobs.
The U.S. called for the extradition of Lazaro late last year, now residing in Mexico. The movie pieces out this exact scenario and investigates the events that led up to bizarre homicides. As Fox Mulder pleads in the X Files “I want to believe,” the message of Laoutides and Aguado will be under the same examination of Dana Scully – “Do you believe Lazaro Ruben Torres, do you really believe in psychic powers and demonic forces?” Time will tell if Lazaro’s story reverberates with audiences believing in the paranormal allegory of When my Eyes go Dark.