"I’m seeing things I shouldn’t!" -- –Sydney
I’ve mentioned before that ghost stories seem to be really popular right now, and how it just about anything can be a home for a restless spirit. This includes the standard home, as well as hotel rooms, cars, video games, and now with The Eye, haunted body parts.
The Eye stars the ever-sexy Jessica (Mrs. Fantastic) Alba as Sydney, a concert violinist who was accidentally blinded at age five by her sister Helen (Parker “Blade: Trinity” Posey). The movie does a good job of showing us how capable Sydney is, doing quite well for herself in life despite her disability, almost to Matt Murdock levels.
However, her sister Helen is still guilt-stricken over blinding her sister. At her insistance, Sydney agrees to a cornea transplant to restore her sight. The operation is a success, and our heroine can see again, although her vision is very blurry at first.
Then, not more than two minutes after seeing for the first time, she spots a ghost.
She doesn't realize exactly what she saw. As the movie progresses, we are treated to more of Sydney’s vision from her point of view, and this is one of the movie's biggest problems. It’s slightly spooky to have a completely indistinct view with odd shapes darting around for a few moments, but after fifteen or so minutes, it's dull and frustrating.
As her eyesight sharpens, Sydney is sent to a doctor (Alessandro “Jurassic Park III” Nivola), who is supposed to teach her to readjust to seeing again. Instead, he’s there for Sydney to call for help and scream, “I’m not crazy!” at.
Sydney tries to avoid all her spectral tormenters for a while, then becomes convinced that she needs to find out where her new eyes came from to resolve her spooky situation. This leads to a final act where a lot of information and flashbacks are shoved at us, followed by a climax that takes the expected cop-out ending.
There’s a lot wrong with The Eye. The first being Alba, who is a very, very attractive woman, but isn’t that great of an actress. This is highlighted in her scenes with Posey, who acts rings around her in their few exchanges. If the film swapped their roles, it would have been a lot more enjoyable. Alba just can’t generate real emotions, and if she’s not believably scared, neither am I.
Speaking of emotions, The Eye tries one of the most direct and ham-handed attempts to generate sympathy I’ve ever seen, by way of a child Sydney meets in the cancer ward of her transplant hospital. I’ve worked in a hospital myself, and I’ve never seen one where the children’s ward was just down the hall from a recovery area. That snapping sound you heard was the cord holding my suspension of disbelief.
Another problem with the movie is it’s one more American adaptation of an Asian horror flick. Most of what made the original version of The Eye work is lost in the translation. There’s none of the playing with sound, which is lost in favor of the standard “boo!” and “did I really see that?” scares.
Then there’s the ending, full of forced tension, forced revelations, and the easy way out for Sydney’s dilemma that I predicted before I even went into the theater. The script is full of these unlikely events that happen just because the movie would grind to a halt if they didn’t, instead of for a reason that makes any sort of sense. Like the doctor risking his career for a girl who, until the decision point, he seems to barely tolerate.
There are some small, good moments in the movie. There are some pretty spooky ghost creatures, and Fernanda Romero does a good job in the flashbacks as the original owner of the haunted ocular orbs.
The movie is very good at portraying the challenges faced in everyday life by the blind, and how Sydney has to suddenly adapt to being flooded with the new sensation of sight.
There’s also a very good scare involving a Chinese restaurant that had the most effective “what the hell is going on” vibe in the flick.
The Eye has too many things going wrong for it, which explains why it was dumped into the theatres in February. If you want to see a good movie about a haunted body part, rent the original flick, or just watch Evil Dead 2 again for Ash vs. his hand. Too bad Sydney couldn’t take a chainsaw to her possessed eyeballs. That would have been a hell of an ending.