Although star Jessica Alba is undoubtedly easy on the eyes, this remake of a Chinese neo-classic, The Eye, is far too easy on the nerves. I was bored beyond belief as this glorified Lifetime movie proceeded more tentatively than The Three Blind Mice at an International Pest Control Convention.
Alba plays Sydney Wells, a gifted concert violinist who lost her sight as a child, but nevertheless enjoys a full, happy and productive life. The sightless virtuoso thinks she's got nothing to lose when her attentive sister Helen (Parker Posey) talks her into getting a corneal transplant — and it's true: she doesn't. However, what she gains along with her vision is much, much worse than living in total darkness (think: "I see dead people!"). As it turns out, there is something called genetic memory at work, and it's dying to tell us something.
Scripted by the guy who brought us Gothika and Snakes on a Plane and the two helmers of Them (aka, Ils), The Eye was already half-closed to me before I even saw it. While not as goofy as his previous work (Gothika unintentionally, and SoaP with tongue firmly in cheek), Sebastian Gutierrez's script still can't help but wander into supernatural soap territory towards the end, forcing its players into some pretty eye-rolling dialogue. Maybe it makes perfect sense in French — directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud parlez vous francais — but for one of the few who didn't like their aforementioned similarly-paced 2006 breakout, The Eye was… lazy.
The original, directed by Hong Kong hotshots Danny and Oxide Pang, contained several skin-crawling moments of true suspense and horror (see it for the crosswalk moment; the little boy in the hallway; and the scene set in the butcher's shop), and while it may not have been the most original idea (again: "I see dead people!"), it at least had lots of chilly style.
This remake is well-acted enough — Alba definitely adds as much gravitas as she's able; and while she is not as convincing as Lee Sin-Jee from the original Eye, Alba shows some previously unseen range — but the usually compelling Posey and dynamic Rade Serbedzija, who plays Wells' maestro, just seem to be going through the motions n their way to the pay window. Furthermore, Alessandro Nivola, as the super-serious Dr. Paul Faulkner, is about as exciting and three-dimensional as an eye-chart. I won't even go into the directors' choices on excessive use of voiceover and exposition (c'mon: it's called The Eye — show, don't tell!).
Still, The Eye is better than no ghost story at all so if you're a sucker for the genre, you'll probably want to check it out anyway. There are some CG creatures of the underworld which may remind you of a cross between Ghost and Dead Like Me, mixed with a touch of the House on Haunted Hill remake (in a good way).
The Eye isn't completely blind to its potential fan base, but it could have had so much more vision.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Read our interview with Jessica Alba here