Review: The Eye

"The Eye" (IMDb listing) is a mawkish thriller dumbed down to resemble the moldy Asian horror leftovers teen audiences seem to flock to no matter the quality. It's a sluggish chiller, poorly cast and conceived, but there's something about the movie that indicates under better care, this type of spooky rumbling might've become something great.

Blind since the age of five, Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) has grown up to become a concert violinist, finding harmony with her impaired world. At the urging of her sister (Parker Posey), Sydney undergoes a difficult ocular transplant to open up her world. When the bandages come off, Sydney's sight is restored, but along with this renewed vision comes ghostly images of death and terror. Unable to silence the evil, Sydney turns to her doctor (Alessandro Nivola) for help and the two head off to uncover the shocking identity of the eye donor.

"The Eye" is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong sensation, which itself gave birth to two sequels and a Hindi production. Suffice it to say, this tale has been thoroughly exhausted. Never one to back down from a challenge, Hollywood has handed the material over to French directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who seem fresh out of interesting visual ideas to attack this warmed-over premise.

"The Eye" is familiar inside and out, and there's no one in the production that appears brave enough to confront the material and mobilize something authentically spooky. Moreau and Palud are content to abuse the same terror tools as everyone else: sickly green tint, jump scares, and bad casting. They don't direct "Eye" as much as they try to survive the American filmmaking process, resulting in a sleeping pill of a picture that plods from scene to scene, vainly assuming the audience has never appreciated a ghost story before.

Screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez ("Rise: Blood Hunter," "Snakes on a Plane") is also to blame for the picture's lack of tension. A dreadful screenwriter, Gutierrez is typing soap opera dialogue for his thinly-drawn characters, stuffing the plot with dramatic false starts to fill a running time. The script doesn't even have fun with Sydney's terrorvision, instead just running through the "don't go there alone!" horror routine with bone-white ghost children and censored PG-13 flourishes before it's time to make her a saint. A saint with lame powers too, as captured in a scene where Sydney drives up to a crispy warehouse and proclaims, "There's been a fire here." Gee thanks, wonder woman.

Jessica Alba is floundering here, forced to spit out idiotic dialogue and make goo-goo eyes toward cold fish Nivola; not to mention she's one half of the most implausible pair of siblings committed to the big screen seen since Schwarzenegger and DeVito. "The Eye" certainly puts the actress to work, with multiple scenes of sweaty panic, leading up to a finale ripped from the "Final Destination" playbook.

There's little cinematic passion to be found in "The Eye," just empty calories and a decent premise left to rot in the juices of routine.

Filmfodder Grade: D