Directed by: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija, Fernanda Romero
I confess I’d held out some hopes for Jessica Eyeball in The Alb, I mean Jessica Alba in The Eye. No, I didn’t expect it to be good, but it did have all the earmarks of being high-grade fertilizer or, at the very least, supremely ripe cheese. And the right audience was in attendance when I watched the film (they laughed and hooted their way through the trailer for the upcoming remake of Prom Night), so I sat back for what I assumed would be some minor amusement.
All the ingredients were there—in addition to the audience and a ridiculous story, there was Jessica Alba “acting” blind, Jessica Alba pretending to play the violin (now that was pretty funny), Jessica Alba pretending to act—but the movie just wouldn’t cooperate. As fertilizer, it wouldn’t grow crabgrass. As cheese, it wouldn’t attract a starving mouse. No, it was simply mind-bogglingly boring supernatural balderdash that finally didn’t even make good sense within the confines of its own silliness. Come to that, since the plot involves our heroine, Sydney Wells (Alba), getting both eyes fixed via cornea transplants, shouldn’t this thing be called The Eyes?
Anyway, blind concert violinist Sydney—complete with blind Kung-Fu Master Po contacts—gets her eyesight back thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, but there’s a downside to it. What neither she, nor her doctors, nor anyone else counted on is the fact that she would also inherit her donor’s ability to “see dead people” (yes, the film actually uses that line). Worse, she sees these black latex-looking befanged shapes that appear to escort dead folks to wherever dead folks go. I’m not sure how good these shapes are at their job, however, since Sydney’s world teems with ghostly beings continuously playing out their deaths.
As if that’s not enough, she also finds her surroundings shifting and changing and has visions of an impending conflagration. But there’s even more: When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see herself, she sees—yes!—her donor (Fernanda Romero). And, wouldn’t you know it, no one believes her! By now, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s enough to make a young violinist’s G string snap.
What’s a girl to do? In the case of the movie at hand, she opts to buffalo her “ocular specialist,” Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola, Junebug), into tracking down the identity of her donor. (Considering that Faulkner’s bedside manner consists of things like screaming, “You’re delusional,” it’s hard to understand her logic here.) That he discovers her donor lived in the most extremely rural patch of the Mexican backwoods certainly raises questions about the whole organ-donor program. (Where, when and how did her benefactor sign up?) All this leads to a spectacularly dumb Final Destination climax, followed by a preposterous serving of “things man must leave alone” moralizing that’s completely at odds with what we’ve just seen. If it all sounds familiar—and uninteresting—that’s because it is.
The film’s directors, David Moreau and Xavier Palud—an imported French team responsible for a horror picture called Them (2006)—bring nothing new to the table, and they aren’t even particularly adept at reheating the leftovers. There’s no real sense of menace, and the whole thing is built around occasional injections of not-very-scary false scares. In fact, the scariest part about this snooze-fest is that anyone thought it would pass muster as a fright flick in the first place. Rated PG-13 for violence/terror and disturbing content.