My Little Eye (2002) / Horror-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, sexuality, language and drug use
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Laura Regan, Sean CW Johnson, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky
Director: Marc Evans
Screenplay: David Hilton, James Watkins
Review published March 8, 2004
Because of the "reality show" nature of My Little Eye, it probably will beg comparisons to The Blair Witch Project and TV's "Big Brother", two other projects which are professionally crafted to look like the authentic work of amateurs. However, this project isn't really crafted to try to trick you into thinking it is real. There's an obviously fictional script, ambient mood music, and good dose of style thrown in for a film that is supposed to have its sources derived from a series of hidden cameras. The result is still surprisingly effective, and director Marc Evans does a commendable job in crafting the right mood and opportunities for some very effective thrills and chills. It's a shame that what attempts to be a unique neo-horror experiment eventually falls into the very same trappings so many other horror films do, relying on clichés and sensationalism, and ultimately ditching all that it builds up for a ludicrous slash-and-gash ending.
The plot: A company puts out an advertisement for a contest in which five people live in an isolated house for six months while being monitored by a plethora of secret cameras and microphones. All five must stay in the vicinity of the house, and none may call for help, or they lose the million dollars they get for success. Things proceed smoothly, until one day one of the contestants gets a letter informing him that his much beloved grandfather has died, and from then on events occur that make the contest more of an endurance test,, They begin to believe the company is trying all it can to either make sure the quintet fail or boost up its ratings with shock value...or is it just a sick fellow colleague?
In addition to the aforementioned "reality" shows and their brethren in films, My Little Eye's first hour also plays like a low-budget version of M. Night Shyamalan's Signs; a group of people are stuck in the middle of nowhere, thinking something is out there but not sure what, and if there is, unsure if its presence is good or bad. During the early scenes when we aren't exactly sure what is going on, the film is full of intrigue and suspense, with an especially stylish look and feel generated by Evans. Because we know just as little as the five contestants, we feel like we are among them, wondering who or what might be behind the strange occurrences and bumps in the night, and the voyeuristic elements lead to a feeling of shared guilt.
While the new gimmick is effective, it still is what it is -- a gimmick. My Little Eye is an evolutionary horror film, but definitely not a revolutionary one. Even though it is different in premise than many other teen horror films we've seen in recent years, it still suffers from the same poor build-up of its characters and trappings of gratuitous sex, drugs and rock n' roll stereotypes. There is the compulsory virginal character, the misunderstood potential psycho, the lonely outcast, the sexpot and the enigmatic one. I won't spoil the film except to say that if you are familiar with how slasher movies tend to play out, you'll probably guess the gist of how things will proceed up until the trite, open-ended epilogue.
Unless you are the rare viewer who is still scared by films like I Know What You Did Last Summer or Scream, My Little Eye may prove to be worth watching, as it is at least a different direction. However, different directions can still lead you to the same destination, and all other viewers will find little other than the main premise to engage their interest, devolving into laughable horror antics that erode the intelligence of the concept. Perhaps a title change to "My Little Brain" would provide a better indication of how little creativity went into this failed project.
©2004 Vince Leo