No, you’re not seeing things – this really is Oxide and Danny Pang’s J-horror flick from 2002, relocated to the US by Them co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud and re-tooled as a vehicle for Jessica Alba. The Fantastic Four beauty has always been easy on the eye and certainly looks the part as the blinded violinist given the gift of second sight after a double corneal transplant. But those with fond memories of the original film will be blinking back the tears after watching this stumbling reprise, a supernatural schlocker that fritters away the promise of its eye-popping premise and ends up being the cinematic equivalent of cataracts.
The Eye is strongest in its early stages when the dead people Alba’s Sydney Wells sees through her second-hand pupils are still blurrily indistinct. The moment those figures come into focus, alas, the plot suddenly develops conjunctivitis, the heroine’s quest to discover where her eyes came from depriving the story of its unsettling mystery in favour of an apocalyptic finale that’s right out of The Mothman Prophecies. A crucial reveal at the 60-minute mark is thrown away, as are supporting players Parker Posey (wasted in her turn as Sydney’s guilt-ridden sister) and Rade Serbedzija (effectively anonymous as Alba’s kindly conductor). No wonder Alessandro Nivola looks so pissed off as the sceptical neural specialist who helps Jessica through her ordeal, lumbered as he is with a thankless role and all of the driving and expository dialogue that gets... cornea by the second.
Not half as corny, though, as the wailing wraiths which emerge from the shadows to whisk the recently deceased off to the afterlife, or the needless voiceover Alba is saddled with that’s almost as stodgy as Hayden Christensen’s in Jumper. Apparently – and excuse us if this is bollocks – it’s not unusual for transplant recipients to display the characteristics of their donor, in a phenomenon known as ‘cellular memory’. Sadly, the only things The Eye has in common with its predecessor are a few mild shocks and a similar running time. You’d be better off going to Specsavers.
Like so many Asian horror remakes before it, The Eye makes you wonder why they bothered. Then again, should we expect more from a film scripted by Sebastian Gutierrez, of Gothika and Snakes On A Plane fame?