Robbed of her sight by a childhood accident, Sydney (Jessica Alba) receives an unexpected boon in the form of a corneal transplant, opening her eyes to a world once shrouded in darkness. She wakes from surgery with a sunny smile and a jolt of optimism, in a scene of such pronounced serenity that one can’t help but sense the undercurrent of disaster. And sure enough, there’s a catch — Sydney’s vision extends beyond the mortal realm, and all around her lurk wandering spirits and the fearsome reapers who usher them into the shadows.
Sydney begins to ask questions, first about her waking nightmares and later about the identity of her donor. She takes to the Internet, where a Google search leads her to the study of cellular memory, defined by Wikipedia as “the hypothesis that memories, habits, interests, and tastes may somehow be stored in all the cells of the human body.” Could her corneas hold some terrible secret? Her therapist (Alessandro Nivola) doesn’t think so. He believes the problem lies not in her eyes but her mind, leaving Sydney quite alone in her struggle to understand why she sees dead people.
Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?
“The Eye” is the latest American remake of an Eastern import — in this case, Hong Kong’s “Jian Gui” — in which the thrills have been hopelessly squandered in translation, replaced with distracting, rapid-fire camerawork and thunderous bumps in the night that reflect a kind of creative desperation. Like “The Grudge,” it is an exercise in abstract silliness, dimly lit and depressingly drab, a dubious triumph of atmosphere over logic. Still, American audiences should recognize it immediately — the plot borrows liberally from movies like “The Sixth Sense,” “Body Parts” and “Blink,” without appropriating so much as a hint of their style or sophistication.
Starring Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija, Fernanda Romero
Written by Sebastian Gutierrez
Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Running time 1 hour 37 minutes