Beware the huge dead eyes of Jes­sica Alba

THE EYE Di­rected by David Moreau and Xavier Palud Star­ring Jes­sica Alba, Parker Posey, Alessan­dro Nivola, Tam­lyn Tomita, Chloe Moretz

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE


15A cert, gen re­lease, 98 min WHEN re­view­ing Amer­i­can re­makes of Asian hor­ror films it is cus­tom­ary to adopt the pos­ture of an eas­ily of­fended maiden aunt at­tend­ing a Robert Map­plethorpe ex­hi­bi­tion. “Oh, how could they!” you say, swoon­ing the­atri­cally.

In truth, the Pang brothers’ The Eye, a 2002 Hong Kong pic­ture in which a blind vi­o­lin­ist ex­pe­ri­enced ter­ri­fy­ing vi­sions af­ter re­ceiv­ing a cornea trans­plant, wasn’t much cop in the first place. Still, that’s no rea­son to im­pose Jes­sica Alba on the un­for­tu­nate re­make. Alba has the ef­fect of dead­en­ing ev­ery­thing about her, so that, af­ter a few min­utes of lis­ten­ing to her un­wa­ver­ing chirrup and gaw­ping at her huge dead eyes, the viewer can feel a lit­tle as if he has been ban­ished to a flota­tion tank. We’re drift­ing off now. Very sleepy.

There were some good things in the orig­i­nal and many of them have made it into the se­quel. The pro­tag­o­nist, see­ing the world for the first time in 20 years, is un­sure quite how dis­turbed she should be by the scur­ry­ing ghosts – per­haps ev­ery­one sees hooded ma­ni­acs out­side their apart­ment doors – and that am­bi­gu­ity al­lows for a novel class of un­ease. David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who di­rected the fine French hor­ror Them, have al­ready demon­strated a tal­ent for ex­ploit­ing un­usual sound ef­fects, and the abra­sive creaks that ac­com­pany Jes­sica’s vi­sions prove at least as un­set­tling as the com­puter-gen­er­ated ghouls.

But even if the cli­max didn’t in­volve an over­load of hokum, the lead’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally one-note per­for­mance would have ren­dered the film stone cold, crosses-for-eyes dead. She is Jes­sica Alba, af­ter all.

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