n what can only amount to cosmic irony, movies have begun
to use the popularity of Reality TV as inspiration for their own plot; if
Reality TV was meant to satirize real life, movies are now satirizing Reality TV
as a false vehicle for satirizing real life. Get it? "Series
7: The Contenders" turned shows like "Survivor" into a
blood-and-guts version; as did the Japanese film "Battle
Royale", about students trapped on an island, with only one possible
survivor allowed to leave alive.
The English production "My Little Eye", a
suspense thriller starring mostly Canadian actors and set in an isolated locale
somewhere in Canada, takes aim at the Reality TV show "Big
(and to some extent, the MTV nonsense "Real World"). "Big
Brother" was about a group of people who must live in a house, and the last
person to leave the house wins a big cash price. As the name implies,
omnipresent cameras capture everything the contestants do, from showering to
sleeping to everything else. "Eye" does its Reality Game Within a
Movie concept just a little differently: 5 strangers must live in a creepy old
house in the middle of nowhere during a brutal Winter for 6 months, while
web-based cameras broadcast their activities to the Internet, and they will win
$1 million only if no one leaves the house.
With only 5 characters to play with, writers David Hilton
and James Watkins are able to give the different characters very individual
personalities. There's the introverted Danny (Stephen O'Reilly), the wise-ass
Rex (Kris Lemche), the prudish Emma (Laura Regan), the slutty Charlie (Jennifer
Sky), and the intense Matt (Sean Johnson). As the film opens, the 5 have already
been living in the house for months now, and are only a few days away from
winning their money. Everyone is determined to win until strange things start
happening. For one, someone seems to be stalking them, leaving behind clues that
brings up pasts the individuals would rather forget. Is the "Company",
the people running the webcast, toying with them? Are they trying to get the
players to quit so they'll lose out on the $1 million? Or is something else more
sinister going on?
For the first 60 minutes of its 90-minute running length,
"My Little Eye" is all invention. The film constantly switches between
webcams perched around the house, capturing every scene from multiple angles,
and zooming in and focusing out on interesting visuals. That isn't to say the
movie is all video footage in the guise of aesthetics. Even the
"webcam" footages are actually film, but shot from such an angle that
they give the appearance of being permanent fixtures ala a nailed-down camera.
Although it will probably be advertised as a Slasher/Horror
film, "My Little Eye" is actually a Psychological Suspense Thriller.
The film is about slowly but surely raising the level of tension and ending the
whole thing with a bloody Third Act. I would have preferred if the film kept its
psychological edge from beginning to end, but unfortunately the writers and
director Marc Evans couldn't resist turning the experience into a bloodbath. A
decapitated head, death by asphyxiation, and gunshot wounds close things out.
As a film that plays on paranoia and self-doubt, the movie
succeeds in spades. For the most part, the characters are so well drawn that we
feel like we know everything there is to know about them, even though the film
opens with the 5 players already in the house. Eagle-eye viewers will notice one
minor discrepancy in the evolution of the characters: one character, in
particular, gets almost no screentime at all. Anyone who has seen enough
Slasher films will be able to figure out why. (Hint hint.)
Marc Evans directs "My Little Eye" with a
terrific sense of voyeurism. The film moves very well, even though the
characters almost never leave the house, and dialogue makes up more than half of
the running length. There is very little action until the final 30 minutes, when
the film wraps everything up in a nice tight bundle.
Which leads me to this: The
whole question about the show and the mysterious "Company" are all
answered at the end. This will no doubt satisfy a lot of viewers who requires
absolute answers, but perhaps the screenplay might have been more effective if
it had not answered everything. Because Evans has shot the film in such a
voyeuristic (and very detached) fashion, not knowing who is being the
game would have been more rewarding, leaving us as in the dark as the players.
"My Little Eye" is an effective little gem. It's
very inventive and although the whole Reality TV Parody genre is starting to get
a little crowded, "Eye" still manages to rise to the surface as one of
the finer films. Then again, why is it that every movie that satirizes a Reality
TV show has to be about blood and guts?