Review: The Eye (2008)

Posted by Peter Hall - February 3rd 2008 @ 11:10 am

Directed by David Moreau, Xavier Palud 2008
Written by Sebastian Gutierrez; original screenplay by Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui & the Pang Brothers

I did not want to see The Eye, nor do I now particularly want to write about it. The whole thing is an issue of non-importance, like the election of School Board officials. In Uzbekistan. I’m sure someone somewhere cares, but that person just isn’t me. The film, an Americanization of a prized piece of Hong Kong horror, has nothing interesting to say and little voice to say it with. This product — and that is all these Asian remakes are — is a conundrum to boot. The original film by the Pang Brothers, though itself was nothing revolutionary, held up alright with solid character investment and generated some well developed scares. This 2008 doppleganger of the Eye has, beat for beat, the exact same story, exact same plot, exact same series of events and yet sees zero investment in anything.

I blame Jessica Alba. She can, depending on the role, be a stable supporting actress, but she cannot hold a film on her own. There are moments in which she gets worked up enough to provide a glimpse of the character that could have been, but those moments are sporadic. Alba was intended to be the saving grace tent pole of the film because of well, tent poles, but the filmmakers tried to downplay her beauty to give the role a more real feel. This is fruitless because her role is oh so unreal. A cover girl gorgeous concert violinist whose happy outlook on the world makes Bambi look like Darth Vader?  Possible, but not likely.

By the time her spiritual-world seeing corneas are transplanted in, there are few reasons to care about her struggle or her safety. No aide comes from director’s Moreau and Palud, who exhibit zero of the tension building skills on display in Ils (Them). The requisite opening scenes of shock establish the typical agenda; loud noises and jolting editing. The mix for The Eye sounds like speakers yelling at each other. All I could think about during the first half hour of so called horror was the scene in Anchorman in which the anchors are shouting over each other and all Steve Carell has to offer is a bellow of, “Loud Noises!’

Admittedly part of the problem is my familiarity with the original source material. I’ve only seen it twice, the most recent viewing at least two and a half years ago, yet I knew the pitch of the pacing by heart. Sebastian Gutierrez’s script adheres to the original in almost every department. Does the WGA allow people to run a foreign language film through Babblefish and then submit a translated script for credit? At least do some of the leg work.

That replication is also the only thing that prevents the film from falling off the map all together. The figures Sydney sees and their behavior are still spooky cool. They’ve got a bit more teeth and howl to them now, which amps up the eeriness from time to time. The presence of more than just long-haired ghosts is what made the original stand out in the Asian horror arena and that is what will make The Eye stand out in the Ameri-Asian horror remake arena. That and that alone.

If you’ve never seen the original Eye, you may get a few more thrills from the remake. If you’re a 13 year old girl, you will definitely get more than a few thrills. I’m neither. If you’re reading this, chances are you are neither, either. So unless you fall into one of those categories, wait til a late night of cable to even bother giving The Eye a shot.

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