Jessica Alba - Sydney Wells
Alessandro Nivola - Dr. Paul Faulkner
Parker Posey - Helen Wells
Rachel Ticotin - Rosa Martinez
Fernanda Romero - Ana Cristina Martinez
Chloe Moretz - Alicia Milstone
Rade Serbedzija - Simon McCullough
Genre - Horror/Ghosts/Remake
Running Time - 97 Minutes
Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
PLOT - An Americanized remake of a Hong Kong feature from 2002, JIAN GUI, THE EYE is about a solo violinist named Syndey Wells (Jessica Alba) who happens to be blind. Her blindness occurred during a fireworks accident at the age of five, when her sister Helen (Parker Posey) held the sparks too close to Sydney's face. Syndey has adjusted fine without the sense of sight, but is pushed to have a cornea transplant by her sister so she can see. The operation comes off extremely well and is referred to see an eye specialist named Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola), whose job is to help Sydney adjust to the world of sight with his assholish charms. Adjusting to the sight is a struggle for Sydney, but it becomes the least of her problems when she starts seeing things that no one else can. Ghosts haunt her, as well as a dark mysterious shadow that seems to be around these lost souls. Horrified by her visions, she begins rejecting the visual world. Although Paul tells her that her brain is still adjusting to the new sense to explain her weird visions, the explanation goes out the window when Sydney looks in the mirror and sees a face that isn't hers. The face belongs to the woman who donated her eyes to Sydney, making Sydney investigate who her new eyes belonged to and why are they making her see these visions.
STORY - The story is probably the best part of THE EYE, which really isn't saying a whole lot. It's hard to screw up a good screenplay like the one for JIAN GUI, and the screenwriter for THE EYE [Sebastian Gutierrez, who also wrote SNAKES ON A PLANE and GOTHIKA] happens to pretty much stay faithful to the original until the different ending. For those who may not have seen JIAN GUI, the story is a pretty interesting one that catches some of your interest. The idea of cellular memory is touched upon to bring a sort of psychology aspect to the film, although it could have been expaned more. The cliched plot device of 'having someone see weird things and having the people around them doubt them, thinking that they could be crazy until they research and figure out what's going on' works well here. I mean, it's hard to mess something like that up. There's a really decent ghost story here. Unfortunately, the characters aren't really developed all that much and some of the dialogue is pretty ridiculous and forced. Ideas are brought up but never developed into anything truly substantial [back to the idea of cellular memory for this one]. The script plays things too safe and you never really feel connected to the story and the characters all that much. Still, there are worst scripts and stories than THE EYE. I found it semi-watchable, and that's enough for me sometimes.
I do have an issue with the ending to THE EYE. I hate that Hollywood feels that every fuckin' horror film needs to have a happy ending. I don't need to have every film tied up in a nice bow and ribbon so I can feel good about what I just saw. JIAN GUI's ending was more downbeat, BUT it made sense with the context of the story. It was a fitting conclusion. Again, the ending for THE EYE felt tacky and forced. And that voice narration at the end that reveals the moral of the story? Ugh. It just made me want to smack a bitch.
DIRECTION - The Pang Brothers infused JIAN GUI with atmosphere, mood, and a high level of creep factor that probably made the film better than it should have been. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud [who directed the French horror film THEM] don't bother with that good stuff, instead relying on jump scares that are pretty old hat these days. Ooh, let's manipulate the audience by having people pop up to catch them off-guard! It's not original and it doesn't work because there's nothing building up emotionally for these things to have any sort of effect. And if you have ghosts, why not make them do SOMETHING? All these spirits did were stand around and ask for report cards. Yeah, I'm frightened.
I will say that the scenes where Sydney first begins to see show some stylish asthetics for Moreau and Palud. And the pacing wasn't too terrible [could have been quicker though], same goes to the editing and the cinematography. THE EYE is one pretty looking film. But other than that, Moreau and Palud disappoint in their debut American feature. If they had infused real scares through nice visual style, they could have taken a derivative and pointless remake to a higher level than it probably deserves. But THE EYE is just forgettable and pretty bland visually for a modern ghost movie.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - It's a pretty tame PG-13 horror flick [sigh...]. There's some violence but nothing to get excited about. People die. Arms getting burnt. Glass shatters everywhere. Nothing new really. I think the language was pretty tame. I'm sure there were cuss words, but I don't really remember hearing any to be honest. And don't bother looking for sex. The closest to it is seeing Jessica Alba in a tank top that's not even wet or see-through. How disappointing.
ACTING - This is the area that frustrates me. If the acting was better, the score would have been higher because great acting can turn a mediocre script into a good film. Unfortunately, we have Jessica Alba carrying a film that's too heavy on her back and shoulders. Here's the thing: Jessica Alba is extremely hot. I love looking at her. Her looks are the reason why she gets these high-profile roles to begin with. But that can only take someone so far. If only she were a better actress, she'd be the total package. But I find Jessica Alba to be pretty boring and bland. I dunno if it's the screenplays that she picks or she's just like that in real life. I'm not saying she's terrible in THE EYE. As a matter of fact, you can tell she's trying to emote and convince us that she's traumatized by the effects of her new corneas. But it's never enough and just seems forced most of the time. The only time I found her acting convincingly was when she was actually playing blind. I thought she did a great job doing that. But she's worse when she's able to see things. How is that possible? I will say it's one of her better performances, which isn't saying much, but the effort was there. I think she needs to take some more acting lessons and learn how to be convincing in roles like this one. When I have to write that Paris Hilton is a better actress than Jessica Alba, it makes me very sad.
Parker Posey is another actress that frustrates me for different reasons. Posey is a good actress [I still think she's the best part of SCREAM 3], but she picks these roles that do absolutely NOTHING for her. Here's another one of those roles. As Sydney's sister, Posey is given nothing to do and she barely has any lines of dialogue. I guess they needed a family member for the Sydney character, but why bother when she has no effect on the story whatsoever. The character could have been left out and nothing would have changed in THE EYE. Posey does what she can with what's given to her, but I want to see her take juicier roles.
The only actor who made an impression on me was Alessandro Nivola as Paul Faulkner. Since he's a modern man, the five-o-clock shadow look was present. He also played Paul as a bit of a jerk, which didn't really make the whole attraction between Sydney and Paul all that effective. Still, Nivola plays the cynic pretty well and I found it amusing that he would play the "love interest" character that way. Maybe he knew the film was gonna suck. Or maybe he was frustrated with Alba's lack of acting ability and decided to let the audience in on it. Whatever it was, Nivola was the only actor who had personality and I would like to see him do more stuff. Maybe if everyone was pissed off in ONE MISSED CALL to show that they knew they were in a bomb, I would have been kinder on that piece of shit.
MUSIC - Don't even remember it. I think it was like some cliched gothic score, but it didn't stick out. The orchestra stuff was nice though.
THE FINAL HOWL
I was really expecting an abomination like ONE MISSED CALL, but THE EYE surprised me by being better than that other remake. Still, THE EYE is lackluster and is more evidence that Hollywood needs to stop making remakes of Asian horror movies. We can just watch the originals, ya know? THE EYE is not bad enough to make you blind, but it's not worth seeing either. Don't bother buying or even renting THE EYE. Wait for it on television.