For a young actress trying to prove her mettle, appearing in a horror film can seem like a canny move. So little wonder Jessica Alba has now decided to do a horror film and, specifically, a remake of a South-East Asian horror flick. It’s a tried and tested way for pretty young things to gain attention in Hollywood, with everyone from Jennifer Connelly (Dark Water from Hideo Nakata’s film of the same name) to Sarah Michelle Gellar (in The Grudge and The Grudge 2 from Takashi Shimizi’s Ju-on series) to Naomi Watts (The Ring and The Ring Two from Hideo Nakata’s Ringu series) doing the whole Americanisation of recent Japanese screamers thing, to greater or lesser levels of success. The only difference here is that Alba’s opted for a Hong Kong Chinese horror film – also called The Eye – to remake rather than a Japanese one.
Horror movies revel in the idea of pretty young girls – usually in skimpy clothes and screaming – being chased by psychotic maniacs. They’re an essential part of the genre, taking the shower scene from Psycho to its most extreme logical conclusion in a veritable orgy of heaving-bosomed women running around looking terrified. Doubtless, there have been thousands of essays about men’s rape fantasies written by wannabe psychologists and militant feminists world-wide about the strange thing this says about the predominantly male audiences for such films – but the important point is that such movies can be a good career move for a young actress. Just take a look at Jamie Lee Curtis – she got her big break in the ultimate slasher movie Halloween back in 1978 and, after a movie career that’s seen her appear in over 50 films, she now goes by the title Lady Hayden-Guest, with a husband who sits in the House of Lords. Not bad.
But does Jessica Alba really need a career boost? Especially one from a film that seems to be a remake not just of a 2002 movie, readily available on DVD, but also of the dire 1981 horror movie The Hand? Because in that Michael Caine-starring early effort from director Oliver Stone – one he’d doubtlessly like expunged from his CV – everyone’s favourite cockney Knight of the Realm gets a hand transplant (don’t ask) that turns out to have some rather nasty side-effects. In The Eye we see a young blind girl get, well… eye transplants with a nasty side-effect and so the mystery of whose eyes they were becomes the heart of the film, as Alba starts to see horrible visions of death and destruction.
It’s all perfectly fine horror film fair and done adequately. But other than the fact that an English-language remake is entirely unnecessary – what’s wrong with the original with subtitles? – the real question is why has Alba bothered? She was voted “Sexiest Woman in the World” by lads mag FHM last year, she’s appearing in the successful Fantastic Four superhero franchise, and she put in a good turn in cult favourite Sin City, the sequel of which she’s also due to crop up next year. With her career going well, the last thing she needs is to risk a horror movie flop. Lucky for her, this isn’t a bad effort – but it’s not a good one either. If she really wants to boost her already healthy career, she should look for something a bit more original.