As we continue to whine about the everlasting J-Horror remakes, Hollywood has now decided to bring us a remake of a Chinese horror flick, Gin gwai. Unfortunately, despite a promising trailer, The Eye itself doesn’t provide any scares aside from a score that sounds like it was stolen from any given daytime soap opera’s annual Halloween episode. The film’s premise — a corneal transplant patient starts to see dead people — is pretty laughable to begin with, but the good news is that The Eye is better, but only slightly, than the other Jessica Alba films of the past year or so. Unfortunately, with a lackluster script and tedious pacing, The Eye can’t even redeem itself with a healthy amount of Alba ass (body doubles are used, and it’s obvious). Miss Alba’s widely-publicized refusal to ever appear nude on-screen has actually resulted in the gradual disappearance of the Alba ass, clothed or not, as even it’s making its inevitable move off-screen as well. In The Eye, Alba ass doesn’t even show up until 00:27, and its few appearances only occur under the guise of very baggy clothing. This is an unfortunate development, since The Eye, directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, certainly could have used a little Alba ass, because it’s not got much else going for it (that I’ve spent this much time discussing its absence ought to be a decent indicator as to the quality of the film).
Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is a classically trained violin soloist who, having been blind since early childhood, undergoes a double-corneal transplant. The operation is considered a technical success, but Sydney soon realizes that she was far happier before gaining the ability to see. She soon begins to see things that she isn’t supposed to see, like *whisper* dead people *end whisper*. Instead of just gaining sight, Sydney has inherited the supernatural and psychic gifts of the corneas’ former owner. It turns out that these are visions of pre-dead people being escorted by cranky ghouls to their deaths. These escorts of the dead, who don’t even bother dressing up for the occasion, aren’t particularly impressive. Sydney encounters these disembodied spirits in coffee shops, on the street, and, more frequently, in her apartment building’s elevator. To complicate matters, nobody seems to believe Sydney is really experiencing these visions. Everyone around her thinks that she’s either going through an extreme adjustment period or has just gone Alba-ass crazy.
As the nightmarish visions increase in intensity, our undeterred heroine fears that her sanity might soon perish. So, Sydney fires up that ubiquitously convenient plot-pushing device, the internet, and commences research. At that point, the film’s uneven script decides to detour into a rather needless and lengthy explanation of “cellular memory,” which seems to transfer characteristics of an organ donor to the recipient. Not that any of this should really matter, since the audience’s willingness to suspend disbelief is pretty much a given (or so think the filmmakers). Instead, we are blessed with a lengthy exposition about the recent advances and benefits of stem-cell research, which feels completely out of context when compared to the rest of the film’s storyline. In fact, if this weren’t a horror film, I’d wonder if there was an actual agenda at work here. Whatever. To make this very long story short, Sydney decides that the former corneas’ owner must have a history worth exploring.
Throughout her ordeal, Sydney has a few non-ghostly companions that are interested in her recovery and mental wellness. Her sister, Helen (Parker Posey), has a few demons of her own. Helen desperately wants to undo the childhood accident that blinded Sydney, and she’s the one who set the whole corneal transplant procedure mechanism into place. Parker Posey does OK as the guilt-ridden sister, but it’s hard to say much more about a character whose dialogue is limited to zingers like, “That’s normal, right?” The film also features a precocious young cancer patient, Alicia Millstone (Chloe Moretz), whose on-screen time was perhaps the most pleasant few minutes of the film. Stepping into the male eye-candy role is Sydney’s neural specialist, Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola), who is a hunky guy but could really really use a brush-up course in Shaving 101, but he does utter the rather hilarious and obligatory, *whisper* “I see dead people” *end whisper* joke. As the good doctor, Nivola veers between looking around for a better film and trying to suppress his hard-on whenever Alba gets too close. After all, a doctor doesn’t mind risking his license to help a patient learn about her donor’s identity, but a little pokey-pokey is totally out of the question. His restraint is rather admirable, for it’s bloody obvious that Doc was dying to give Sydney her very first glimpse of manhood (*cough cough*).
Aside from that wee bit of romantic tension, The Eye is an overly long snoozer. Horror films aren’t supposed to be monotonous and dull, but somehow, this film manages to do just that. Each scene is drawn out to extraordinary length, which doesn’t add to the suspense as much as it does the yawn factor (or what the filmmakers might call “atmospherics”). Alba’s portrayal of fear is limited to countless shots of her peering around corners and into ovens. Still, she is far better here than attempting action heroics or slapstick comedy. The film borrows heavily from The Grudge and anti-climactic aspects of The Ring. Coincidentally, this film also reminds me of a movie, the name of which eludes me, that I saw on HBO decades ago about a brain-transplant patient who kept seeing visions of a bathtub electrocution. Perhaps this would be a fitting end to this reel of celluloid.
Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can usually be found at agentbedhead.com.Has Sight But Lacks Vision
Film | February 2, 2008 | Comments ()