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The Eye

There's probably an interesting concept for a psychological drama buried deep within The Eye, but as a psychological horror--or, excuse me, "thriller"--it's empty.


Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is a Los Angeles-based concert violinist who has been blind since she was 5 years old. She gets by the best she can and sees "using my other senses," as she explains to a passer-by whom she saves from getting run over by a bus. But Sydney still desperately misses her vision and is one day away from a once-in-a-lifetime medical miracle that will bring her the gift of restored sight: a double corneal transplant. Almost immediately following the operation, Sydney, through extremely blurred vision, begins seeing strange silhouettes but thinks nothing of them. As her sight improves with each passing day, however, the figures become clearer and much more troubling. Before long, Sydney identifies them as "escorts" that take people away when they're dead, and she can't escape the horrifying visions, even while sleeping. But she's forced to investigate and solve the situation mostly on her own, as both her sister (Parker Posey) and ophthalmologist (Alessandro Nivola) swear it's all in her mind's eye. What Sydney discovers is both hair-raising and, of course, eye-opening.


The opening shot features Alba looking glamorously hot in the way we're used to seeing her, as though just finishing a photo shoot for the cover of another glossy magazine. Then the camera pans down to her walking stick, and you admit to yourself, not three minutes in, that Alba as a blind woman (and later a violinist!) will necessitate complete suspension of disbelief. Same can be said for The Eye's few dramatic scenes, namely one in which an extreme close-up draws attention to the actress' complete inability to fake-cry. Alba can pull off much of the rest of the movie since it's relatively low on dialogue and emotion, but The Eye is just another example of her trying, in vain--much like Good Luck Chuck--to un-pigeonhole herself. In supporting roles, veterans Nivola (Junebug) and Posey (Dazed and Confused) show that they're much too esteemed for a B-grade horror movie and much better than the actress to whom they are playing second- and third-fiddle, respectively. Although that's usually the case in movies like this.


Ah, the much-too-frequent adaptation of the exotic-import horror movie--always reliable for a few cheap thrills and nothing more. The Eye, based on the Pang brothers' 2002 Chinese film, is no exception to that rule and is undoubtedly a dumbed-down, less-scary version of the original. The director duo of David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who collaborated on 2006's creepy French film Them, manage to somewhat dilute all that is bad about The Eye by using music and style, but there's ultimately no way around the anemic adapted script by Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes on a Plane) and acting by Alba. While the concept of someone having her vision restored after 20-plus years without it is fascinating and tantalizing for all the directions in which a filmmaker could take it, there's nothing post-setup--or post-op, in this case--that eclipses the mildest of scares, and this meant to be a horror film. To the directors' credit, The Eye looks gorgeously foreboding and the movie's elevation to mere watchability shows that they have some promise in this genre.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.