The premise of the film is rather clever. Jessica Alba plays the character Sydney Wells, a concert violinist who has tragically suffered from blindness since the age of five. Her other talents include the ability to read braille with one hand and dial on her cell phone with the other. After years of coaxing from her self-centered sister, Wells reluctantly consents to a double corneal implantation, a procedure made safer because of the progress made with stem cell research. Mere moments into the film her operation has gone flawlessly, and gradually the blurriness starts to fade. Ironically her character in The Eye parallels Hayden Christensen’s in Awake.
What would a film be without complications? Wells suffers from one rather minor and unnoticeable setback; she sees the dead repeatedly dying in terrible accidents and notices the grim reaper taking souls away to the great beyond. Otherwise the implants work perfectly! Enter the handsome doctor Alessandro Nivola, and the slight hint of sexual tension peaks our interest. Immediately Wells suffers from visions that Dr. Paul calls mere schizophrenic hallucinations, or at best, a rough period of adjustment. Sure, if you call seeing explosions, hellfire and brimstone, and death by fire a normal adjustment to the world of sight, his diagnosis is right on target! We have to expect some frivolity and stubbornness in these dark horror films. Along her journey, Wells is introduced to a young suicide victim, shadows, monsters, burn victims, and other dangerous specters.
The strong suit of the movie is the repeated attempts of Director David Moreau to frighten audiences. Nearly every sequence involved noises designed to raise heart rates. He is a master of creating suspense, and the testament to his ability is the anxiety created through ordinary events even if they culminate in no action at all. One cannot help but feel driven away from the screen for fear of another attack by the supernatural. If you love to be frightened and have the hair on your arms and head stand straight up, this film is tailor made for you.
Ultimately, it is discovered that Alba suffers from cellular memory recovery, a rare side-effect of organ transplants whereby the recipient retains the thoughts, images, or even personality of the deceased donor. This leads to countless twists and turns, frightening moments and makes the film both watchable and overdone. Unfortunately, by the closing scenes any and all suspense has departed, leaving moviegoers wishing for a better writer to finish the script and not leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths, although that could be accounted for by the lard content of the buttered popcorn.
The script amounts to a smart combination of Robert de Niro’s Hide and Seek, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s less than stellar The Return, Sean Bean’s Silent Hill, and Michael Keaton’s White Noise. One cannot be too sure of the preferences of his readers, but quite possibly Jessica Alba is a major star in the best horror/suspense film of the entire genre. This is a must watch at the movies, it might lose its luster on DVD. Watch this film after 9 PM in a dark and empty theater.
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