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5 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Eye, The (2008)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Jeepers Creepers, Look At Alba's Other Peepers!"
2 stars

While the idea of doing an Americanized remake of a foreign-language film is almost always a bad idea, it is especially so in the case of transporting Asian horror films since their stories are usually rooted in the kind of culturally specific material that tends to get lost in the translation. The quality of a horror movie is almost inevitably in inverse proportion to the number of times that it tries to scare viewers by having someone or something suddenly leaping into the frame for a big “GOTCHA!” moment or twenty. There is no film that features the irrepressible Parker Posey in a supporting role–the best friend or the wacky sister or the old girlfriend–that could not immediately be improved by bumping her up to the lead slot and giving the presumptive star the second-banana scraps. While there are many things that we could argue about in regards to the ways of contemporary Hollywood, I doubt that there are many regular moviegoers out there who would disagree with these points. If you are a naysayer on these points, you should by all means rush out right now and see “The Eye,” a lazy little bit of genre hackwork that seems to have been designed especially to prove these three particular tenets.

Jessica Alba stars as Sydney Wells, a lovely young woman who hasn’t let her blindness (a result of receiving a firecracker in the face when she was five) stand in the way of her dream of living an independent life in Anonymous City (think Polynesiantown without the crane shots) and becoming a world-class violinist with the Anonymous City Philharmonic Orchestra. As the story opens, Sydney, at the urging of Helen (Parker Posey), the older sister who still feels guilty about lobbing said firecracker, goes in for a cornea transplant that successfully restores her eyesight. Now that she has had the sense of sight restored after such a long time, it requires a period of adjustment for everyone–Sydney has to essentially relearn how she views the world and make sense of the overwhelming new sensations that she is being bombarded with and all the guys that she knows now have to actually look into her eyes when talking to her instead of blatantly gazing about eighteen inches lower. Sydney’s adjustment period becomes even more traumatic when she begins have nightmares involving fire and blurry visions involving ghostly apparitions that look like rejected designs for those zombie things from “I Am Legend.”

According to hunky eye doctor Paul Faulkner (Allesandro Nivola), Sydney is only seeing these things in her mind because she is mentally unable to cope with being able to see once again. Of course, we all know that no one as pretty as Sydney could possibly be having psychological problems and as her visions begin to increase in number and intensity, she discovers something about cellular memory–a theory that your organs carry on traces of your life even if they are transplanted into another person–and decides to investigate who she received her eyes from as a way of getting to the bottom of what is happening to her. This leads her and Paul to a small Mexican village where she discovers that her eyes came from a young woman who apparently had a psychic gift for seeing death and tragedy before it happened–alas, her superstitious fellow villagers decided that she was cursed and when her unheeded warnings about a factory fire led to hundreds of deaths, she was hounded into committing suicide. With this knowledge, Sydney and Paul head back home and only then discover the real meaning behind the visions and the “gift” that she has received.

“The Eye” is based on a 2002 Asian film of the same name that remains one of the high-water marks of the generally overrated J-horror movement–although it heeded pretty closely to the familiar rules of that particular subgenre, directors Oxide and Danny Pang did an effective job of conjuring up an atmosphere of quiet fear and dread before unleashing a truly apocalyptic finale on viewers from out of nowhere. Although this remake for the most part hews relatively closely to the particulars of the original, the screenplay from Sebastian Gutierrez has not figured out a way to transplant the story into any meaningful American context and too often lapses into absolute incoherence in order to keep things moving along. (Then again, the incoherence may not entirely be his fault–the intermittent narration, the seemingly tacked-on final scene, dangling plot threads and an utterly nonsensical shock sequence in a Chinese restaurant all seem to suggest that this was a film that underwent any number of rewrites and reshoots along the way.) Directors David Moreau & Xavier Palud, whose previous work was the not-uninteresting French home invasion thriller “Them,” appear to have only one scare tactic in their arsenal–a ghostly apparition jumping out of nowhere–and they keep hitting it over and over throughout until it becomes more irritating than terrifying.

However, the real problem with “The Eye” isn’t that it is simply a bad movie–at least a bad movie along these lines could have provided viewers with some kind of entertainment value, however inadvertent. No, the fatal flaw with “The Eye” is that it is a bland and boring work that is the cinematic equivalent of a dead light bulb. There is no juice or energy to be had from any of the participants in front of or behind the camera–the film as a whole pokes along at a somnambulistic pace (even the fiery climax lacks any kind of punch) while the actors go through their paces is such a sluggish manner that it feels as if they are underwater. Although no one will ever mistake Jessica Alba for a technically proficient actress based on the majority of her previous work, she has usually proven herself to be a sweet and sunny presence even in junk like “Honey” or “Good Luck Chuck” but she just comes across here as a lump–an exceptionally pretty lump to be sure but no one that you would want to spend 90 minutes and $10 to follow around. Nivola gets stuck with the stick-in-the-mud scientist role, a dog part even in a top-flight film in this particular genre, and spends all of his time blindly denying everything that the heroine tells him until he instantaneously changes his mind just in time for the climax. On the other hand, at least he has a part to play–the role that Parker Posey has been given here is such a nothing bit that you wonder why the filmmakers went through the trouble to hire her in the first place.

The only interesting thing about “The Eye” is something that only dawned on me in hindsight and that is how politically conservative it turns out to be in the end. As a rule, horror films have always tended to lean towards the conservative side of things–woe usually comes to those who refuse to play by the rules and act like everyone else–but this film ramps up that tendency in bizarre ways. Early on, we learn that the secret behind Sydney’s successful cornea transplant and, by extension, the horrors that soon engulf her life, is none other than stem-cell research. Towards the end, without going into too much detail, it turns out that the cataclysmic finale is touched off by someone rocketing through the porous US-Mexico border. Although horror buffs may come away from “The Eye” profoundly disappointed, I suspect that it could find a second life as the after-hours entertainment at this year’s Republican National Convention, a notion more frightening than anything to be found in the film itself.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16853&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/02/08 10:10:13
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User Comments

8/06/09 laressa its inspiring it showed me to find my destiny in life cuz i wasnt put on dis earth 4 nothin 5 stars
10/07/08 megha just see the movie 3 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! Kept me on the edge of my seat 5 stars
6/16/08 action movie fan rather dull except for very good explosive finale 2 stars
5/08/08 Misti K They definitely dumb it down in the American version... pretty disappointing! 3 stars
3/02/08 John Millheim this movie is not that scary to me, the japanese version is alot better 3 stars
2/21/08 Ace WHAT BOGUS CRAP!!! It just kept going from bad to worse, so I left before it was over! 2 stars
2/13/08 Ming Good try on doing this remake...I think the story need to be more beliveable 3 stars
2/03/08 Veronica Jarvis Absolutely great if you're into these types of movies...def worth your time! 4 stars
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  01-Feb-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2008



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