The Eye **1/2 (out of ****)

Directors: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez based on the film Gin Gwai
Cast: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija
Rating: PG-13 (violence, terror, disturbing content)
Running Time: 97 min
Release Date: 2/1/08

The Eye, a remake of the Chinese film Gin Gwai, is the story of a talented violinist Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) who had lost her sight at the age of five. An earlier attempt at a cornea transplant in her youth had failed due to rejection. Her sister Helen (Parker Posey) had held out hope over the years that medical advances would eventually solve the rejection problem. That day finally arrived and Sydney is scheduled for surgery.

At the outset we see that Sydney has adapted to her limitations and is shown as very successful in her musical career. However, problems start as soon as her bandages are removed. When the other patient in her room dies, she sees a ghost taking the person soul away. As she tires to adapt to sighted life she continues to see other worldly horrifying images. As her sight returns to full clarity she becomes increasingly dysfunctional. Her conductor (Rade Serbedzija) thinks that she is going mad.

After leaving the hospital she is referred to a vision therapist, Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola), who initially thinks Sydney’s problems are just the normal issues encountered by a blind person regaining sight. Eventually her visions become so pronounced that even he comes to believe something else is involved. Sydney’s own search for an answer lead her to a theory called “cellular memory” in which a transplant recipients exhibit behavioral characteristics of the donor. She persuades Dr. Faulkner to violate privacy laws to reveal the identity of the donor who was a young girl who committed suicide. This leads to a trip Mexico in search of the answer to the mystery.

Jessica Alba is continuing to develop as an actress. Her portrayal of Sydney in various stages of “sightedness” is adequately convincing. Interestingly, she seems attacked to films premised on controversial medical theories recently. Her previous release Awake dealt with “anesthesia awareness”. This is not a spectacular movie by any means but is a solid piece of work. While it contains many horror scenes and supernatural elements, it shouldn’t be lumped in with the general horror genre.

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