MY LITTLE EYE
Five twentysomethings are selected as contestants on a Big Brother-style show broadcast live on the internet. To win the $1 million prizemoney the group must live in an isolated house for 6 months - if one person leaves, no-one wins anything. Thereís sexy Charlie (Jennifer Sky), nervous Emma (Laura Regan), show-off Rex (Kris Lemche), all-American Matt (Sean Cw Johnson) and shy country boy Danny (Stephen O'Reilly). Shortly before the winning date, strange and sinister events occur. It seems that someone has discovered the darkest secrets of the contestants and is attempting to scare at least one of the group to flee. As fear and disputes take their psychological toll the game takes a deadly turn.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
I spy with My Little Eye...a gimmicky horror movie with just enough clout in the opening stanzas to save it from the scrap heap. Inferior in every way to the reality TV-themed thriller, Series 7, My Little Eye doesn't do much with a plot that trades on the same pop culture appeal but winds up as a slightly better than average "spam in a cabin" fright flick. What's most interesting about Welsh director Marc Evans' film is technique. Audiences will feel like they're inside this impossibly grand and isolated mansion as multi-camera coverage is expertly edited to generate an atmosphere of mounting dread.†
There's more than a hint of Blair Witch Project eerieness as wind rustles through the trees and grainy vision and dynamite sound design accompany the five young stereotypes (Jock, Geek, Delinquent, Sensitive Girl, Tramp) who are sweating it out for the big prize. For about half an hour these elements generate a few decent scares and build up hopes of that rare film item - a genuine knuckle-whitener. The intrusion of an external character at this point signals the beginning of a downward slide that is only arrested by the end credits. Its intriguing spell broken, My Little Eye turns into a standard stalk and stab affair as the quintet of contestants becomes a quartet, then a trio and so on. A few searching lines spoken directly to us in the audience gives some food for thought about the voyeuristic trend in contemporary TV and Internet entertainment. "I pity you, you sad ****...got no life of your own?" shouts money-hungry bad-boy Rex (Kris Lemche) in an attempt to implicate us in the crimes we're watching but such concerns are swamped by the body count and unmasking of very obvious villains as the equally predictable last contestant standing makes a desperate dash to escape the carnage.†
I had a good enough time for about half of this low-budget shocker performed by an agreeable cast of little-knowns and TV faces including Jennifer Sky (Zena - Warrior Princess), Laura Regan, Sean CW Johnson (Dawson's Creek) and Stephen O'Reilly. Unfortunately, as is so common in this genre, it failed to deliver the shocks or surprises it promised. We can only hope that similar thrillers based on Strip Search, Temptation Island and Australia's Worst Driver do not appear.
Review by Louise Keller:
Heralding a new low in filmmaking, My Little Eye is an ungainly reality combo of Big Brother and Blair Witch Project. The idea came to screenwriter David Hilton in March 2000 when he woke up in the middle of the night, turned on the light and started writing. If only he had taken a sleeping pill instead! There are some chilling moments and a few scares, but the whole concept is grounded in the ridiculous, and many of the scenes seem like an improv workshop.†
Itís a shocker of a film and thereís nothing real or engaging about it. Itís bad enough being subjected to the likes of Big Brother on television, but when this concept is taken one step further, and we have actors playing the part of housemates, with a script that plays like a studentís attempt at a horror film, things are looking very grim. We first briefly meet the five money grubbing housemates in their audition tapes, who are quickly settled in the remote house in the middle of winter, and although we have hardly met them, it seems that their six months stay is almost over. Yes, the house is isolated, itís freezing and the lighting isnít very good. There are cameras positioned in all kinds of places throughout, and the sound effects include the zooming in of the camera, conversation through different microphones, static, dripping taps, owls hooting, wind howling and other man-made synthetic noises.†
The film is grainy and the action takes place both inside and outside the frame. There are some interesting effects such as the night vision scenes in which the actorsí eyes shine like a mirror and look rather spooky. But the script is blatantly ridiculous, and as the body count begins, the film sinks very low indeed. Blood on a pillow, a gun, an axe, a plastic bagÖ. Iím sure you get the picture. By the time Rex hooks up to the internet through his mobile phone, we know exactly where things are leading. The cast does a reasonable job, considering the material, and itís not hard to guess why the filmmakers cast Laura Regan as Emma, who is reminiscent of a young Mia Farrow. There were a couple of people who left during the screening, and I might have been one of them, had I not had the dubious pleasure of reviewing the film.
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MY LITTLE EYE (M15+)
CAST: Sean Cw Johnson, Jennifer Sky, Kris Lemche, Stephen O'Reilly, Laura Regan, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell
PRODUCER: David Hilton, James Watkins
DIRECTOR: Marc Evans
SCRIPT: Jonathan Finn, Alan Greenspan, David Hilton, Jane Villiers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hubert Taczanowski
EDITOR: Mags Arnold
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Crispian Sallis
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 24, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: January 7, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.