by Jack Sommersby
While it would seem to have all of the ideal ingredients for an efficient entertainment, it's second-rate stuff that doesn't come close to delivering on its promises.Brian De Palma's Body Double was ludicrous and riddled with so many plot holes it was at best a shot-gunned Swiss cheese, but at least it was stylish and sensual in its telling of a wannabe actor who found himself infatuated with the beautiful woman he took to spying on the next house over with a telescope, which led him into a world of intrigue and murder. Obviously influenced by Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, it was lurid yet fascinating -- that is, until its moronic final sections, which even De Palma's technical mastery couldn't salvage. The Canadian thriller Bedroom Eyes has a similar story premise, but while it's better scripted it's not nearly as enjoyable, with the chief reason the mediocre direction by William Fruet, a second-rate talent who's given us the atrocious horror flicks Funeral Home and Spasms. For a while it's tolerable, though, thanks to Kip Gilman's energetic portrayal of the hero, Harry Ross, a stockbroker who likes to take nightly jogs and light up a cigarette right after; one fateful night, after coming to a stop on a neighborhood sidewalk after stepping in dog excrement, he notices gaudy flashing red lights coming from a house; intrigued, he sneaks up to the window and sees a sexy redhead doing a striptease for a man; after it's over, he heads back home. But Harry, though attractive and the object of flirtations from women in the office, discovers that spying on a woman is considerably more arousing than sleeping with one; suffice to say, he returns to this house on a nightly basis yet can't come to terms with his obsession. Worried that there's something wrong with him, he goes to see a psychiatrist for the first time in his life, and he's unprepared for the doctor being a woman, and an attractive woman, at that -- Alice Barnes (Dayle Haddon), whose direct questions fluster Harry yet don't stop him from asking her out on a date; naturally, she declines, but when she finds herself having dinner in the same upscale restaurant Harry and a blonde bombshell of a co-worker are at, and the woman's overt sexuality catches her attention (taking off her panties and insisting Harry place his foot in her moist crotch), the doctor finds herself unable to look away. Harry takes his date home yet turns down her offer for him to stay over; understandably, she's floored, and Harry instead makes his way to that house where he can spy on the attractive redhead, only this time murder figures into the equation, and Harry, horrified and flustered by what he's witnessed, flees the scene in a panic and leaves behind a good deal of physical evidence that the cops have no trouble following up on.
"More Yawns Than Palpitations"
After eight years of television work, this is Gilman's first appearance in a motion picture, and he handles his assignment with plenty of alacrity. Harry is an ace at his job but stuck in limbo on a personal level -- he reads too much into everything, and finds being a voyeur is refreshingly devoid of any kind of emotional commitment. But he doesn't see it that way, and one of the movie's funniest aspects is this pervert offended at being perceived as a pervert by his beautiful shrink. (When asked if he masturbates while peeping, Harry's aghast at such a suggestion.) In a lesser actor's hands, Harry could've grown tiresome, but Gilman, employing both imagination and discipline, keeps the characterization deftly aligned: we share in Harry's helpless obsession and feel his exasperation when the police are closing in: where Body Double's Craig Wasson made for quite the lackadaisical hero, Gilman gives us a protagonist who's both humorous and intense, with whirlwind emotional states that give Bedroom Eyes its only real interest. Other than that, the movie is one disappointment after another. The police-procedural details are routine, and the scenes of Harry eluding capture haven't been engineered with the precision and flair that we'd like; missing is a crucial element of genuine suspense and surprise that all good thrillers require, which were abundant in another Canadian production, 1978's The Silent Partner, which found Elliott Gould's mild-mannered bank teller evading both the police and a professional criminal intent on eliminating him. The screenplay by first-timer Michael Alan Eddy relies too much on contrivances and not enough on invention -- the story plays out pretty much as expected, and a late-in-the-game plot twist can be foreseen from a couple of zip codes away. Maybe something could've been done with this lazy blueprint if a director of some talent had been hired, but Fruet is akin to a tone-deaf conductor put in charge of an out-of-synch orchestra. He can't get anything of a rhythm going, and though the scenes have been adequately shaped they're not particularly persuasive, especially the ones with the hero peeping, which De Palma nailed in Body Double with his fluidly subjective camerawork that seductively pulled us in. Bedroom Eyes is appallingly photographed and so squarely conceived and developed that there's very little pleasure to be deprived from it; though R-rated, there's a lot more timidity than temerity to it. Harry may be turned on by what he sees, but what we're left watching elicits yawns rather than palpitations.Spying on a math tutorial would be more involving.
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originally posted: 02/26/14 13:19:50