Science restores the sight of a blind concert violinist, but the consequences are supernatural in French filmmakers Xavier Palud and David Moreau's remake of the spooky ghost story by the Chinese writer-director team of Danny and Oxide Pang.
Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) lost her sight when she was five, in an accident for which her older sister, Helen (Parker Posey) holds herself responsible. A successful corneal transplant allows her to see again, but what she sees isn't at all what she expected: Vivid, nightmarish visions – sleeping and waking -- of hostile shadowy figures, rundown rooms she's never been in, fire and the recently dead. Her vision therapist, Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola) assures Sydney that she's just experiencing a rough transition, and then when she gets used to the overwhelming sensory input from her new eyes, all the ghost images will go away. But she knows better: She knows the trouble is the traumatic memories clinging to those second-hand eyes, and that unless she finds out who her donor was and what he or she wants, the awful sights will never, every go away.
Moreau and Palud made a striking debut with the siege thriller THEM/ILS (2007), and were quickly snapped up by the Hollywood movie-making machine. They were reportedly replaced during post-production by Patrick Lussier (billed only as editor and visual consultant), who did a surprisingly creditable job directing WHITE NOISE 2 (2007). So it's hard to know who bears the brunt of the blame for THE EYE's stunning dullness: Maybe star Jessica Alba, an actress of conspicuous limitations, or perhaps Sebastian Gutierrez, the once promising Venezuelan-born screenwriter who reworked the original script, or quite possibly, the American mainstream movie industry, which hires foreign filmmakers for their non-Hollywood approach to filmmaking and then systematically forces their work to conform to market-tested, focus-group approved conventions and formulas.
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