Review: ‘The Eye’

Jessica Alba sees dead people in “The Eye,” a Hollywood version of the Pang brothers’ 2002 Hong Kong spookfest that’s already spawned three sequels and an Indian remake (“Naina”).

Jessica Alba sees dead people in “The Eye,” a Hollywood version of the Pang brothers’ 2002 Hong Kong spookfest that’s already spawned three sequels and an Indian remake (“Naina”). Handed over to another directorial duo — Frenchmen David Moreau and Xavier Palud of home-invasion thriller “Them” — this slick effort is effectively creepsome until it bogs down somewhat in plot explication. Super Bowl weekend has proved a winning launchpad for mainstream horror before, and this watchable if unmemorable item banked $13 million in its bow facing tween sensation “Hannah Montana.”

Blinded in an accident at age 5, Sydney Wells (Alba) is a concert violinist nervously awaiting an operation to replace her corneas. Afterward (mercifully, this is one horror movie that doesn’t feel compelled to show surgery), she almost immediately begins seeing strange things, which her sister (Parker Posey), conductor (Rade Serbedzija) and specialist (Alessandro Nivola) assume at first is simply a result of disorientation in adjusting to her new, sensory-overload world.

But the visions become more vivid and disturbing — she gets premonitions of deaths, then sees the victims being led away by ghouls (which doesn’t make the afterlife look too inviting). She experiences hallucinatory nightmares involving people trapped in a fire. Eventually, the late, anonymous eye donor (Fernanda Romero) begins appearing in her mirror, finally prompting Sydney and her reluctant doc to road-trip down to Mexico and find out what she’s trying to communicate from the beyond.

Hewing fairly close to the original in tone and incident (complete with a refusal to insert the one-last-gotcha! that’s usually de rigueur in American horror pics), co-helmers Moreau and Palud do a good job creating a queasy atmosphere in which the real and spiritual worlds are unpleasantly hard to separate.

Pic is basically one eerie setpiece after another until the later reels, when Sebastian Gutierrez’s script feels compelled to start explaining things away. As usual with such hocus-pocus, the more it’s belabored in literal-minded dialogue (plus unnecessary voiceover at the beginning and end), the less plausible and scary things become.

Alba is adequate, supporting thesps good, though only Nivola gets much screentime. Aside from a bit of rough CGI during a climactic explosion, package is well turned on all levels, with a cold, inhospitable look to the production design and widescreen lensing.

The Eye


A Lionsgate release presented with Paramount Vantage of a C/W Prods. and Lionsgate production in association with Vertigo Entertainment. Produced by Paula Wagner, Don Granger, Michelle Manning. Executive producers, Mike Elliott, Peter Chan, Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Michael Paseornek, Peter Block, Tom Ortenberg, Darren Miller. Directed by David Moreau, Xavier Palud. Screenplay, Sebastian Gutierrez, based on the motion picture "The Eye" directed by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang/written by Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui, Oxide Pang, Danny Pang.


Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Jeffrey Jur; editor, Patrick Lussier; music, Marco Beltrami; music supervisor, Jay Faires; production designer, James H. Spencer; art director, Naython Vane; supervising set decorator, Brenda Meyers-Ballard; costume designer, Michael Dennison; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Bayard Carey; supervising sound editor, Tom Myers; re-recording mixers, Michael Minkler, Myers; senior visual effects supervisor, Nathan McGuinness; visual effects supervisor, Marc Varisco; visual effects, Asylum Visual Effects; special makeup effects and prosthetics, Matthew W. Mungle; stunt coordinator, Peter King; associate producer, Sarah E. Baker; line producer, Jack Murray; assistant director, Eric Tignini; second unit director, Mic Rogers; casting, Nancy Nayor Battino, Kelly Martin Wagner. Reviewed at AMC Van Ness 1000, San Francisco, Feb. 1, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 97 MIN.


Sydney Wells - Jessica Alba Dr. Paul Faulkner - Alessandro Nivola Helen Wells - Parker Posey Simon McCullough - Rade Serbedzija
With: Fernanda Romero, Rachel Ticotin, Obba Babatunde, Danny Mora, Chloe Moretz.
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