The Eye (DVD)

The EyeI'm not going to ramble on and on about American remakes of Asian horror films — we're all sick of that debate, we all have our opinions, so why waste space spewing out the same old exclamations of sacrilege, US ignorance and lack of imagination? But then, that's easy to say when the film is lame enough to have plenty to critique anyway.

The idea behind The Eye is an interesting one. We all know the tricks that horror films rely on to give us the heebie-jeebies: weird-looking stuff, gore, the high-pitched strings, the sudden noise and, most importantly, unidentifiable sounds off screen. So when you're lacking inspiration on how to revamp this tradition, why not raise the possibility that you can't trust your eyes either? It also gives the filmmakers scope for some interesting experimentation with visuals. Of course, this stuff only happens after the painfully trite Hollywood intro to the plot: Sydney (Alba) was blinded by fireworks as a kid, but she still lives a rich fulfilling life in New York as a concert violinist and, in the space of the opening intro, manages to save a dopey skater from being hit by a bus. Of course, he says "Thanks, I didn't see it" to which she responds "Nor did I" — cue music. Really, really not a good start to a film.

The characterisation doesn't improve even a little bit. Once Sydney's new eyes are installed and begin to play tricks on her, we are supposed to believe she might be going mad, but Alba's pathetic performance combined with bland scripting and an absurdly unsympathetic and sceptical sister (Posey) and psychologist (Nivola) do little to remedy the situation. In fact, Dr Paul's hammed disbelief at Sydney's trauma even after she smashes up her flat, wraps her head in a bunch of towels and retreats to her bed for a few days is frankly ridiculous. Even worse is that later he inexplicably decides to believe Sydney and drive her to Mexico. Naturally Sydney wonders what has happened and asks him why he did: he can't answer but I'm sure every man in the audience is mentally answering the question for him. But anyway, the myriad of indicators that Sydney's visions are more substantial than mere hallucinations (handprints in sugar, burned arms, suspicious mums) make it far too clear to the audience (and should've made it clear to a man clever enough to be a doctor) that Sydney's eyes really are a bit weird.

While the complete lack of depth and subtlety does somewhat squash the potential of the concept, there are a few saving graces tucked within the bland exterior. The dream transportations to horrific fire scenes are reminiscent of Guillermo del Toro at times, and the ghostly visages of death, despite looking a bit like the vampires from 30 Days of Night, are pretty creepy. There are even a few amusing one liners, like when Sydney is first telling Paul of her ocular irregularities stating "I see..." he immediately interjects with "dead people?!" Nonetheless, when all's said and done the characters are boring and one-dimensional and there is nothing particularly original about this film. One can be forgiven for thinking that the lovely Jessica's career might be in terminal decline ... unless she improves the quality of her nude scenes quickly. But in this one, you just have a few creepy moments and an interesting central concept to keep your attention — and sadly it isn't quite enough to make this one worth watching.

EXTRAS ** Deleted scenes and a collection of fairly standard featurettes: Birth of The Shadowman; Becoming Sydney; Shadow World: Seeing The Dead; The Eye: An Explosive Finale; Theatrical Trailer

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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