Friday, February 1, 2008

Review: The Eye

Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tamlyn Tomita
Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Rated PG-13
Release date: Feb 1, 2008

I actually requested this review during a phase I like to refer to as the “sign up for movies I don’t want to see in an effort to challenge myself as a reviewer” phase. Or S.U.F.M.I.D.W.T.S.I.A.E.T.C.M.A.A.R for short. Right out of the gate, I had lowered expectations. Not bleak really, because I tried to keep an open mind, but lowered to say the least.

I suppose I shoulda known better. I shoulda seen it coming. Then I find out the movie was produced by Tom Cruise. I shoulda left after the trailer for Prom Night.

The Eye is a remake of The Pang Brothers 2002 Asian film, Jiàn Guǐ. I first heard about the original from a friend of mine who always tries to find these movies no one has ever heard of in search of the “diamond in the rough.” I never got around to seeing that film, but I can safely attest to the fact that this is not said diamond.

The most frustrating part of this movie is that the concept itself is quite interesting. Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is a concert violinist who has been blind for the better part of her life. She undergoes a double corneal transplant so as to have her sight restored. After the surgery, Sydney begins having visions of the dead and premonitions that she attributes to the violent nature by which the donor patient died. The idea always struck me as pretty twisted — a person seeing unexplained visions through someone else’s eyes all while being passed off as her mind simply adjusting to the concept of sight. Or better yet, just the idea of a blind person being able to see for the first time in years and having to re-acclimate themselves to an environment they have grown to not only survive in, but flourish. So the idea is fine, and there is a good story to be told somewhere in there, but even the best laid plans can flop down like a bag of hammers if it’s not executed properly. This is my problem with The Eye.

Horror movies are supposed to be entertaining. For that matter, all movies should strive to be, but horror in particular needs a little something extra. Whatever it is and whatever it sets out to be, it shouldn’t be boring. Boring movies are one thing, but boring horror is another crime altogether. First and foremost they should be scary. This can be achieved a number of different ways but tension is the vehicle I like to ride in. There is no tension in loud noises, only annoying loud noises. There is also no tension in blurry ‘shapes’ that hover around in the background and jump out of thin air; especially if you are telling the story of a person regaining their sight. Really, is that the best you’ve got is an out of focus lense and some creepy kids? I’ve seen home movies with better camera work than that, and that wasn’t on purpose. I would say tension could be created through a back story that makes us care about the characters or the situations they are in. Sadly, we are not afforded such luxuries. Instead we are treated to a poorly executed mess of a good idea with an ending that bounces somewhere between bad super hero and Jeepers Creepers. I would say textbook, but only if you were actually blind and tried to read one that wasn’t designed to allow you to understand it. Or if it were in Spanish and your eye doctor/psychoanalyst who inexplicably speaks the language fluently wasn’t there to translate for you. If that doesn’t make sense don’t worry, it doesn’t to me either and I saw the movie.

Which brings us full circle with the very beginning and the Prom Night trailer. I will not dive head-first into Lake JustbecauseyouCANremakesomethingdoesn’tmeanyouSHOULD. But I will stick a toe in to test the temperature — if you are going to remake a superior product, do it the justice of being relevant; don’t perpetuate the problem by making the same mistakes of your predecessors. And for viewer’s sake, engage us, even if only to a degree. Don’t bore everyone to tears between scares that aren’t even there to begin with.

Oh, by the way, the water in the lake is warm. Go ahead and take a swim.

And there’s the rub.

* out of ****

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