The Eye

Movie Information

The Story: A cornea transplant leaves a young woman with the ability to see ghosts, ghoulies and other things that go bump in the night. Personal problems ensue. The Lowdown: An amazingly dull take on an already overused concept.
Score:

Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Director: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija, Fernanda Romero
Rated: PG-13

I confess I’d held out some hopes for Jessica Eyeball in The Alb, I mean Jessica Alba in The Eye. No, I didn’t expect it to be good, but it did have all the earmarks of being high-grade fertilizer or, at the very least, supremely ripe cheese. And the right audience was in attendance when I watched the film (they laughed and hooted their way through the trailer for the upcoming remake of Prom Night), so I sat back for what I assumed would be some minor amusement.

All the ingredients were there—in addition to the audience and a ridiculous story, there was Jessica Alba “acting” blind, Jessica Alba pretending to play the violin (now that was pretty funny), Jessica Alba pretending to act—but the movie just wouldn’t cooperate. As fertilizer, it wouldn’t grow crabgrass. As cheese, it wouldn’t attract a starving mouse. No, it was simply mind-bogglingly boring supernatural balderdash that finally didn’t even make good sense within the confines of its own silliness. Come to that, since the plot involves our heroine, Sydney Wells (Alba), getting both eyes fixed via cornea transplants, shouldn’t this thing be called The Eyes?

Anyway, blind concert violinist Sydney—complete with blind Kung-Fu Master Po contacts—gets her eyesight back thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, but there’s a downside to it. What neither she, nor her doctors, nor anyone else counted on is the fact that she would also inherit her donor’s ability to “see dead people” (yes, the film actually uses that line). Worse, she sees these black latex-looking befanged shapes that appear to escort dead folks to wherever dead folks go. I’m not sure how good these shapes are at their job, however, since Sydney’s world teems with ghostly beings continuously playing out their deaths.

As if that’s not enough, she also finds her surroundings shifting and changing and has visions of an impending conflagration. But there’s even more: When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see herself, she sees—yes!—her donor (Fernanda Romero). And, wouldn’t you know it, no one believes her! By now, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s enough to make a young violinist’s G string snap.

What’s a girl to do? In the case of the movie at hand, she opts to buffalo her “ocular specialist,” Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola, Junebug), into tracking down the identity of her donor. (Considering that Faulkner’s bedside manner consists of things like screaming, “You’re delusional,” it’s hard to understand her logic here.) That he discovers her donor lived in the most extremely rural patch of the Mexican backwoods certainly raises questions about the whole organ-donor program. (Where, when and how did her benefactor sign up?) All this leads to a spectacularly dumb Final Destination climax, followed by a preposterous serving of “things man must leave alone” moralizing that’s completely at odds with what we’ve just seen. If it all sounds familiar—and uninteresting—that’s because it is.

The film’s directors, David Moreau and Xavier Palud—an imported French team responsible for a horror picture called Them (2006)—bring nothing new to the table, and they aren’t even particularly adept at reheating the leftovers. There’s no real sense of menace, and the whole thing is built around occasional injections of not-very-scary false scares. In fact, the scariest part about this snooze-fest is that anyone thought it would pass muster as a fright flick in the first place. Rated PG-13 for violence/terror and disturbing content.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

12 thoughts on “The Eye

  1. rosario

    I thought it was not a bad movie…
    I really like the scenes of the girl in thr mirror (Fernanda Romero) and (Jessica Alba).

  2. Dionysis

    I think this is a re-make of a recent Japanese horror film. Has anyone seen that, and is it a better film (as it almost has to be, based upon Ken’s review)?

  3. Ken Hanke

    Actually, this one’s a remake of a Hong Kong horror film, which I haven’t seen. The overall assessment on that film is pretty divided, though it’s worth noting that its admirers seem to be people who think Asian cinema is automatically better than anything else. That’s something I’ve never gotten behind. For example, I think THE RING is a definite improvement over the original RINGU. That said, I’d be hard pressed to imagine that the original THE EYE isn’t better than this.

  4. The original THE EYE is by The Pang Brothers, who I think are really talented. It is considered one of the best films in the recent Asian horror genre.

    The new one, well….

    marc

  5. Ken Hanke

    All I’ve seen from the Pang Bros. is THE MESSENGERS, which didn’t encourage me to seek out their other works. But as I said, I can’t imagine their film of this isn’t better. Still, the premise — transplanted body parts that give the new owner the personality/power/whatever — of the donor is such a hoary one. It at least dates back to 1924 and THE HANDS OF ORLAC — and has resurfaced numerous times over the years. I suppose something fresh could be done with the idea, but this isn’t it.

  6. Sundance

    1st of all, LMAO @ “blind Kung-Fu Master Po contacts”…hilarious!

    2nd, I completely agree that Asian horror isn’t AUTOMATICALLY always better than Western…just most of the time! You’re spot on w/your assessment of “The Ring” vs “Ringu”. The US remake was 89.978% better.

    In this instance, however, the original Pang Bros. outing is way more affecting than this remake. There were a number of instances in which the original surpasses the remake, but the one that stood out to me the most was the elevator scene. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but the original elevator scene scared the crap out of me, whereas this one just made me a little tiny bit uncomfortable.

    @ 1st, I just figured it was because I had seen the original scene and remembered it fondly in comparison to this new one…but no, it’s just better!

    You should try and get a hold of the original, Ken, if only for comparative reasons. It really is much better than the remake.

    For a change…

    LOL

  7. Ken Hanke

    I may well take a look at the original. I’d readily concede that what was wrong with THE MESSENGERS had for more to do with the script than the direction, so I’m hardly completely put off the Pang Bros.

    Now fitting in when I’d get a chance to watch it may be a separate issue!

  8. JJ Funky

    The previews looked dull enough, even though I had illogical hopes for a cool flick. However, at
    least your review cracked me up, Ken. Thanks, man.

  9. Ken Hanke

    You’re quite welcome. Like I said, I’d have been happy if it had just been wild cheese, but it committed the cardinal sin of being boring.

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