So-so 'The Eye' lets good talent go to waste

The more I see her, the more I am convinced that Jessica Alba is a decent actress with a bad agent.

Her films, for the most part, are garbage, but she still manages to impress me from time to time with her chops. Her latest, the horror remake The Eye, contains what might be her best work yet. The film, which wasn't prescreened for critics, gives her a chance to show off her dramatic abilities. As she showed in the recent (and unjustly maligned) Awake, Alba is pretty good.

It's because she can act that this relatively flat horror yarn is almost decent. Alba plays Sydney, blind from the age of 5 after a firecracker accident. She is the recipient of some transplanted eyes, and after they've been stuck in her head, she starts seeing bizarre things: ghostly, shadowy creatures showing up to lead hospital patients away; creepy kids hanging out in her apartment complex hallway and jumping out of windows; and so on.

The hospital assigns her a specialist (Alessandro Nivola) who tells her it's just the new eyes playing tricks on her, and to get a grip. Still, Sydney seems to have gained clairvoyant powers, and they're wreaking havoc on her sleep and work schedule. It all leads up to a finale that, while totally preposterous, actually has a decent level of tension and suspense.

The Eye isn't a bad movie. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud get good work from Alba, and strong visuals from the technical crew. This is a movie that you never think is truly bad while watching it, but it never gets to a sufficient level of entertainment. For the most part, it just sits there, looking pretty but failing to engage.

Still, there are moments when Alba truly shines. She does scared well, and her character has plenty of reasons to be freaked. I was also impressed with Alba's ability to turn on the waterworks; she can cry on cue, which isn't easy. There were times where I noticed her dialogue was quite silly, but she managed to sell it with her convictions.

There is a twist late in the movie that I thought was ingenious. I won't give it away, but it gave me a legitimate scare. It's one of those The Sixth Sense moments that changes the entire scheme of the movie. Unfortunately, the screenplay doesn't really capitalize on it, and the film goes down from there.

The normally comical Parker Posey shows up in the subdued supporting role of Helen, Sydney's sister. Posey only has a few scenes, but she does them well, and shows that she's capable of moving beyond the outlandish roles she usually lands.

Is the film scary? Yes and no. There are sporadic moments where the directing duo manages a decent creep factor. The shadowy figures that hang around the dead are nasty, and I wouldn't want to see one in a dark alley. Some of the ghost sequences are eerie, too. The problem is, there aren't enough of these moments to qualify the film to be scary as a whole. Too much of the movie is spent with the Alba character yelling at her doctors or pleading with sister to believe her plight. It also spends some time with Sydney at work, and I will say that Alba mimes a decent violin.

It's time for Alba to get a real shot in a real movie. She was the funniest thing in The Ten, another near-miss. She was charming in Good Luck Chuck, even if the film was awful. I even liked her in the Fantastic Four films, which are beyond bad. I'm sure if a credible director gave her a shot with a challenging supporting role, she would excel.

As for The Eye, it's just another so-so movie for Alba.

The Eye
Rated NR

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