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My Little Eye

(Marc Evans, UK/USA, 2002)


 


Horror movies have always drawn on popular culture's fads and obsessions in order to spin them into neurotic nightmares. The modestly inventive My Little Eye manages to combine three such topics: the Internet, reality TV and snuff movies.

On paper, it could have seemed like a hundred other slasher films in which a group of clueless teenagers are trapped in a spooky house, getting picked off one by one. But what keeps them indoors – the promise of the big prize on a televised, Big Brother-style game show – is novel.

This film is underdeveloped in many ways. The characters (played by an ensemble that includes Jennifer Sky and Sean CW Johnson) spend the entire film pouting, swearing and striking surly poses – it's hard to tell them apart, let alone care about them. And the plot revelations which twist the tension up a few notches are a long time coming.

Nonetheless, director Marc Evans is to be commended for creating an intriguing, often captivating form for his project. My Little Eye is the best of the many horror films made in the wake of The Blair WItch Project. That is to say, it takes a deliberately rough, low-tech visual approach (thanks to the omnipresent tele-surveillance) and makes it as subtly creepy as possible. Especially effective are the relentless deframings – off-centre, robotically adjusted, cluttered-up compositions – that unfailingly put the viewer on edge.

The film is, in the best sense, an exercise in style. Its ace card is a remarkable soundtrack that constantly blurs the line between the real sounds of the technology that surrounds the characters, and the unreal manipulations which the filmmakers carry out.

Amid a crop of energetic but meaningless horror movies released in 2003 (Undead, Darkness Falls, 28 Days Later), My Little Eye valiantly tries to make a link between purely mechanical terror and a school of psychological naturalism that owes something to Larry Clark's films. It doesn't succeed in this quest, but it exudes a suitably bad vibe in the process.

© Adrian Martin September 2003


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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