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Review

New Alba flick ‘The Eye’ a bad remake of frightening original

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February 7, 2008

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; plagiarism, however, is the most insincere form of literary treason.  There is a knife’s edge separating reverent idolatry and bold-faced counterfeiting.  “The Eye,” the latest Asian-pirated horror flick, wobbles on the edge of that precipice for a short while before swan-diving right into the fraudulent waters of shambled copy-catting. 

Co-directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud and adapted by Sebastian Gutierrez, “The Eye” is an American re-tooling of the Hong Kong frightfest “Jian Gui.”  Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) receives cornea implants hoping to restore the sight she lost at age five.  The operation goes perfectly, but Miss Wells is terrified to discover her new specs carry with them the ability to see the spiritual world.

Thought to just be adjusting to the overwhelming newness of sight by her doctor (Alessandro Nivola), Sydney must unravel the mystery of her eyes and the deadly premonitions she sees every night at 1:06 a.m. 

The film starts off promising enough, albeit with its base rooted in what would be a modern medical miracle.  The promise of horrific visions and mystery is an enticing carrot dangled by the directors, but it becomes apparent rather quickly that this rabbit hole is really a snare that quickly kills its viewers through familiarity and trite boredom.  Even the story, scant enough to begin with, starts to break down almost immediately as ocular implants somehow seem to make Sydney hear things with no visual counterparts.

Frantic editing and timid but obligatory “shock-shots” do their best to hold up this facade, a smoke screen distraction that hopes to keep you off-track long enough to cover up the fact that almost every scene in this cover-up is borrowed from other films.  Tattered edges remain from where pages were ripped from the “The Mothman Prophecies” and “The Sixth Sense,” something the filmmakers seem to relish in as they mockingly recreate the famous line “I see dead people.”

Sadly, not even the performances can bolster this crumbled attempt at cinema.  Alba brings her striking beauty and innocence but little else.  Teenagers and lonely men will flock to the theater houses merely for a chance to see Miss Alba reveal even the skimpiest amount of flesh.  Spurred by this, or the crew’s own twisted delights, comes a random shower scene followed by intimate close-ups of Alba slipping into cotton panties; is it sick that this scene is the most artistic and carefully implemented?

“The Eye” quickly forgets what it is doing and gets lost, scrambling to pick up its own broken pieces by force-feeding 100 minutes of plot into the last 20; the third act stumbles as it tries to carry the load.  The climax, dropped quizzically into Mexico, severs itself from the film.  The ending is the pack-mule of absurdity, leading you blindly into a conclusion off the beaten path of logic and sanity.  Between this random incongruous finale and the uninteresting characters acting with no rhyme or reason, the only real horror here is the death of horror itself.

Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.