The Eye DVD review

Does Jessica Alba's horror rise above the general run of Hollywood re-takes on J-horror originals...?

The Eye (2008) - on DVD from Monday September 8th

The Eye is an intriguing and dark thriller, a remake of the Hong Kong film Jian Gui. Jessica Alba plays Sydney Wells, a young classical musician, blinded by a firecracker at the age of five and about to undergo a cornea transplant operation to restore her sight. The operation is a success but soon Sydney begins to see things which violently disturb her as she tries to accustom herself to her new found sight…

Sydney has a nightly succession of bad dreams always ending at 1.06am. She is haunted by a young hooded child in a corridor searching for a report card. She sees dead people in horrifying scenarios and is unable to see her own image in a mirror, instead seeing a girl she presumes to be her donor.

Sydney is initially reassured by her doctor, Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola) that her eyes are being overwhelmed by an array of visual stimuli to which she is simply unaccustomed, however, convinced she is witnessing strange and very real nightmares, she remains determined to discover the name and whereabouts of her donor. Eventually Faulkner gives in and takes Sydney to Mexico to meet her donor and discover the reasons behind the nightmarish visions and the significance of the number 106, in an explosive climax.

David Moreau and Xavier Palud have put together a stylish and very dark thriller which is well paced and suitably shocking when required. Jessica Alba deserves praise for taking on such a challenging role but to be frank she isn’t totally convincing in the lead; seemingly cast as a name to grab a teen audience, rather than for any great ability, her performance is only adequate. Arguably she is simply reacting to the horrific visions in Sydney’s perceived view of the world.

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The special effects deserve a special mention, in particular when one of the ghosts walks straight through Sydney. A scene in a cafe when plate glass begins to slowly crack and shatter is very well realised. Ultimately though, clever CGI alone does not a great movie make.

Although generally very effective, the lighting at times is just too dark to appreciate the action. Many “significant” moments are heavily sign-posted. The opening sequence featuring a witch being victimised feels heavy handed. The flagging of the number 106 is even less subtle, destroying any real surprises at the film’s denouement. The reversal at the film’s end feels like a bit of a cop-out.

Hollywood remakes have a reputation for sanitising previous foreign-language hits, often robbing them of much of their original atmosphere. The Terminal with Tom Hanks and The Assassin starring Bridget Fonda are just two examples of needless remakes of perfectly sound foreign language films. The Eye, whilst impressive in places has a similar feeling of redundancy.

ExtrasA deceptively long list suggest the film is “packed” with extras, however, on closer inspection the series of mini documentaries last no longer than a few minutes each. Birth Of The Shadowman, a mere 97 seconds, is very much a throwaway scrap. Alba’s role is examined in Becoming Sydney (4 minutes 47 seconds), detailing her attempt to play the violin and act partially sighted. Perhaps the best of the documentaries is Shadow World: Seeing The Dead (8 minutes 31 seconds) an interesting exploration of the psychology of the paranormal. The Eye: An Explosive Finale (6 minutes 8 seconds) describes how the pyrotechnic effects were achieved.

The remaining extras comprise 8 deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. If only the short documentaries had been cut together into a more satisfying “making of” documentary that covered all the bases, it would have made for an easier watch. The lack of a director’s commentary is another missed opportunity.

Running Time: 98 minutes (approx)

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3 stars
2 stars



3 out of 5