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Look Away from The Eye

  • Christian Hamaker Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 29, 2008
Look Away from <i>The Eye</i>

DVD Release Date:  June 3, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  February 1, 2008
Rating:  PG-13 (for violence/terror and disturbing content)
Genre:  Horror
Run Time:  97 min.
Director:  David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Actors:  Jessica Alba, Allesandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Chloe Moretz, Rachel Ticotin, Obba Babatunde

If it’s Super Bowl weekend, it must be time for another remake of an Asian horror film. Last year, Super Bowl weekend brought the release of The Messengers, a failed American remake of a Hong Kong film, minus the atmospheric chills. Now comes The Eye, a remake of a film directed by Danny and Oxide Pang, the filmmaking duo who came to America and made … The Messengers.

The Eye, directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, makes the Pang brothers 0 for 2 in American films they directed or that were remade from their original work. It’s deadly dull—worse than the tepid Messengers—and should vanish quickly.

Jessica Alba stars as Sydney Wells, a blind violinist who undergoes a cornea transplant that allows her to see more than she expects. In addition to the blurry images of her doctor (Obba Babatunde), older sister (Parker Posey) and specialist (Allesandro Nivola), Sydney sees spiritual beings who scream and howl at her when noticed. They don’t want to be seen. They just want to do their job:  escorting the spirit of the dead to their place in the afterlife.

Released from the hospital, Sydney tells her sister, who feels some responsibility for the loss of Sydney’s sight, that she wants to live on her own. But something won’t leave Sydney alone. At home, she’s tormented by images of people perishing in fires, and by the repeated sight of a frightened young boy who can’t find his report card. When people stop walking into her and begin walking through her, she realizes she can see dead people. What to do?

The spiritual “escorts” continue to torment Sydney, who can’t convince anyone that her visions are anything more than post-surgery artifacts, sure to pass as she continues to recover. The doctor overseeing her progress, who insists that Sydney’s visions are the result of her brain’s inability to process new visual stimuli, gradually becomes convinced that there’s more to the story. As Sydney’s desperation grows, he risks his medical license to travel to the Mexican village that was home to the donor of Sydney’s corneas. Had the donor been tormented during her life? Is she trying to tell Sydney about a traumatic event that took place in the village?

Getting to the solution is a trial. Among the meaningless facts and opinions that fill the film’s 97-minute running time, we learn that Sydney’s blindness resulted from playing with firecrackers as a child; that her sister has lingering guilt about taking part in that mischief; and that, according to a medical specialist, cornea transplants are a reality because “stem cell research changed the game” for the blind.

Alba’s star has been on the rise, although it’s not clear if she’s a serious actress or simply tabloid fodder. She doesn’t bring much to the lead role in The Eye, but the film’s problems are far greater than her performance. The presence of Parker Posey, a wonderful, quirky actress in a wasted role as Sydney’s sister, makes the proceedings even more painful.

The Eye does have three moments that make viewers jump—an average of one every 32 minutes. Some scare-fest. If your eyes stay open during The Eye, it’s only because you’re checking your watch.

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  • Language/Profanity:  Lord’s name taken in vain; some profanity.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A woman recommends drinking two glasses of sherry the night before an operation; a woman drinks sherry out of a bottle.
  • Sex/Nudity:  A woman showers; very fleeting glimpses of the top of her buttocks and side of her breast.
  • Violence:  A woman attempts to hang herself; flashes of people on fire; visions and dreams of being incinerated; spirit beings scream and lunge at Sydney; deep gashes on an arm; a woman breaks a glass window with her fists; a woman pulls the skin above and below her eye; blood comes out of a woman’s eyes; glass pierces eyes; massive explosion.
  • Religion:  Sydney sees the spirits of dead people being led away by spiritual “escorts,” although where they’re headed is never discussed.