|release date||February 1 2008|
|director||David Moreau and Xavier Palud|
|writer||Sebastian Gutierrez and Hillary Seitz|
|starring||Jessica Alba, Parker Posey, Alessandro Nivola, Francois Chau,Tamlyn Tomita|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Back in 2002, before Hollywood had caught on, I was jumping the gun on the J-horror craze. Among films like DARK WATER, RINGU and PULSE there was Mandarin horror film that I was obsessed with – JIAN GUI, or THE EYE if you will. Directed by the Pang brothers, the film was a mix between action and horror and took low budget to a new level. While being completely conventional, it still found a way to be completely entertaining, scary and explosive (literally). After THE RING remake exploded in theaters Paramount Pictures had announced a remake of EYE, which instantly had me excited… until the film entered development hell. Somewhere along the way Lionsgate ended up with the rights to remake the film (alongside Paramount Vantage) and what should have probably been another wasted remake, ended up a solid carbon copy with a few minor tweaks.
In the film Sydney, a young, blind violinist is given the chance to see for the first time since childhood through a miraculous corneal transplant. As Sydney adjusts to a dizzying new world of colors and shapes, she is haunted by frightening visions of death itself capturing the doomed and dragging them away from the world of the living. Terrorized and on the brink of insanity, Sydney must discover whose eyes she has inherited, and what secret visions they have held.
David Moreau and Xavier Palud – two upcoming French filmmakers we’re pretty excited about – had the unfriendly task of creating a Xerox copy of a phenomenal Asian horror film. Because of the lack of originality involved, for any director this task should be the equivalent to selling your soul, but the duo bring a little of their own flavor to their version. Besides getting me to jump out of my seat on three separate occasions, the duo does a remarkable job building the character of Sydney and they really take the necessary time to develop the audience/character relationship over the first 45-minutes. They don’t rush and really use the time effectively. In addition, they also play with the idea that even when Sydney receives new corneas, she has to adjust and things are still blurry. In an ironic way she’s still blind even with vision. There are a lot of dialogue and visual elements which work together to really create tension for the viewer. We see what she sees and what she sees are shadows, fuzzy outlines of people, and is what she seeing real or ghosts? It’s a genuine thumbprint given by the duo that really separates them from let’s say, the director of ONE MISSED CALL, which was conventional and completely unoriginal to the core. I’m not saying THE EYE is groundbreaking by any means, but at least the film plays as if it has something to say in a different way.
I also really dug Jessica Alba’s first ever solo starring performance. She’s 100% convincing in her role and by the halfway point I was sold onto the fact that she was Sydney, which is a difficult thing for any actor to do (separate their stardom from their character). On a negative note Parker Posey has never walked through her lines so lazily (and looked so rigid) and Alessandro Nivola is not only remarkably hammy as Dr. Paul Faulkner, but his “look” designed for the film makes him appear to be some wannabe hipster Hollywood douche bag. Every single time he talks, walks or even appears on the screen I just wanted to punch him in his f-cking glasses. It was almost as if his character was written in at the last second because even his lines were atrocious. There’s a moment were Alba’s character exclaims, “It’s almost as if I….” and Nivola finishes, “can see ghosts?” Brilliant little wink, wink, elbow elbow (sarcasm). Obviously this hinders a massive portion of the film, also adding a few chuckles here and there, but at least the rest of it was entertaining enough to get me through.
I know everyone’s always knocking remakes, but seriously, I look at is as this film was made for those people who would not venture out to find the original and watch it. THE EYE remake is for those people who don’t even know JIAN GUI exists… and on that note it’s a successful film. Lionsgate has delivered a solid PG-13 horror film that’s both entertaining and suspenseful… and for those of you who don’t like it, there will be more SAW on October 24.