Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija
Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud
“I don’t need eyes to truly see,” says Jessica Alba in a schmaltzy scene from The Eye remake. Well I didn’t need psychic cornea transplants to see how this one would turn out. The term “remake” has now joined the ranks of words like “cancer” and “bankruptcy”; you just know it’s not going to lead anywhere good.
Sydney Wells (Alba) is as blind as a bat. When an eye transplant allows her to see for the first time in her life, she quickly goes under the knife and awakens to a bizarre world she doesn’t know. As bad fortune would have it, Sydney has been given the eyes of a dead psychic girl which makes her see bizarre visions and unpleasant ghost attacks. Sucks to be her. Or anyone who pays above matinee price to see this thing.
Ironically, The Eye practically begged for a remake. The original Hong Kong film was a popular slice of Asian horror with a few good jolts, but it was as loud and hokey as any Hollywood movie. There was more than enough room for improvement, but then again, that would require a little bit of creativity. And creativity defeats the purpose of remaking movies, doesn’t it? Instead of contributing anything to the material, the filmmakers have opted for a straight copy of the original with even louder scares and more hokey drama, something I thought impossible. With the recent advances in technology, it’s a wonder studios don’t just take foreign movies and use computers to brighten the actors’ skin pigments and use digital lip replacement to make them speak English. It wouldn’t be far from the laziness shown here.
To add insult to injury, this is the second bad Asian remake to be made by French directors in less than a month (the first being One Missed Call from Malifique helmer Eric Vallette). Filmmakers David Moreau and Xavier Palud showed considerable skill in crafting mood and intensity with last year’s Them (a.k.a. Ils) and to no surprise, their American debut feels hollow and anonymously directed. There is nothing about The Eye that is the slightest bit different than any other assembly-line Hollywood ghost flick. CGI scares and loud stingers reign supreme, stripping away any trace of atmosphere and leaving us with the most dreadful thing possible: The acting talents of Jessica Alba.
To call Alba the “female Keanu Reeves” would seem appropriate, but it’s not really fair to Reeves, who has turned in at least a few decent performances in the span of his career. Alba is the epitome of the vapid pretty-face actress, hitting every emotion and line of dialogue like a cue-card. Paired with an equally stilted doctor/love interest character whose name I don’t care to remember, the two could easily take the “Worst Screen Couple” award at next year’s Razzies. The only thing resembling a performance in the entire film comes from the great Parkey Posey in a thankless “why-the-hell-are-they-here?” role as Alba’s sister.
Aside the generic filmmaking and piss-poor acting, there is one major difference in the remake that viewers of the original will find unforgivable: A cop-out Hollywood ending. Since this is impossible to discuss without diving into spoilers, those blissfully unaware readers might want to skip the following paragraph:
The original film ends when our heroine finds herself in a horrible traffic jam and, in a sudden psychic twist, realizes there will be an accident seconds before a cataclysmic explosion destroys everyone in sight. The remake gives us the same scenario with a different outcome: After verbally spoon-feeding us the meaning of her visions, Jessica Alba heroically leaps into action and saves the lives of everyone by clearing the road before the explosion, branding her a national hero in one of the sappiest finales in recent memory. Imagine if The Ring remake had ended with Samara popping out of the television to deliver a bouquet of flowers and you’re not far off from the Lifetime-level cheese this movie serves up.
Dull, clichéd, and silly, this is yet another watered-down slice of horror cinema that will score big with teenage girls under the age of fifteen. For the rest of us, The Eye is about as fun as ocular surgery.
2 out of 5
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