'The Eye': Second Sight, By Kurt Loder

Jessica Alba sees dead people in yet another horror remake.

Jessica Alba is Sydney Wells, a blind concert violinist — I know, I know, but bear with me — who gets double corneal implants to restore the eyesight she lost at age five. Immediately she starts seeing things. Not just seeing things — of course she's seeing things now, although blurrily at first. No, she's seeing things. Like, one night, lying in her hospital bed, she sees a spectral figure enter the room and lead away the old woman in the bed next to hers. When Sydney wakes up the next day, she's told the old woman died in the night. Hmm.

Aside from the blind-violinist part, "The Eye" is basically an amped-up copy of a 2002 Hong Kong horror movie by the brothers Danny and Oxide Pang. That film had a nifty, low-budget kick (and, like this one, felt a little too long). The remake is a slicker piece of product, which is not an altogether bad thing. The French directors, David Moreau and Xavier Paulud ("Them"), were wise to shell out for cinematographer Jeff Jur ("You Kill Me") and soundtrack composer Marco Beltrami ("3:10 to Yuma"); and Jessica Alba was a good choice for the lead — the role doesn't demand much more of her than her creamy presence and boy-bait appeal, but she's capable of more thoughtful expressions than the average B-movie screamstress.

The picture is crassly entertaining, which is okay — who goes to this sort of movie in search of refinement? There are endless, shameless shock cuts to hovering corpses, weird little kids and shrieking fire people — phenomena that only Sydney can see. Is she crazy? Or have those pre-owned eyes of hers arrived with baggage attached? Dr. Paul Faulkner (standard-issue stubbly guy Alessandro Nivola), a neurologist who has eyes of his own for Sydney, would like to buy into the "cellular memory" theory she's dug up on the Internet. And her sister, Helen (Parker Posey), wishes she could do something to help. (Posey's only purpose here is to turn up every 15 minutes or so, act fretful and then disappear.)

But in the end, Sydney herself has to take the situation in hand. This leads her down to Mexico in search of the truth about the woman whose eyes she's inherited. We needn't follow her there right now. More horrors await, and a lot more fire. The movie's disabling flaw is that none of this is new. The stretchy-mouthed ghost folk are derived from Edvard Munch by way of old Chris Cunningham videos, the shocks are all cheap, the ending is ludicrous, and echoes of earlier movies are rampant, from "Repulsion" to "The Sixth Sense." Is the picture in any way worth seeing? Maybe. The question is, where? "The Eye" may not be a made-for-cable movie, but cable will be its natural home.

("The Eye" is a Paramount Vantage co-production. Paramount and MTV are both subsidiaries of Viacom.)

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