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My Little Eye

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My Little Eye
cast: Kris Lemche, Sean C.W. Johnson, Stephen O'Reilly, Laura Regan and Jennifer Sky

director: Marc Evans

91 minutes (18) 2002 widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Tom Matic
In an echo of the phenomenon of straight-to-video distribution, many films nowadays seem to be made with DVD in mind, featuring a plethora of behind-the-scenes and making-of documentaries. This was true of Deathwatch, and moreso of My Little Eye. You'd have had a job spying it with your little eye at the cinema: its theatrical release was a blink and you'll miss it affair! But now it's really come into its own on DVD, with an alternative version that allows you to log on as an Internet subscriber to the fictional 'snuff' webcast in the movie.
   It's five suckers in search of an exit, in this tense Big Brother in the Old Dark House thriller. Three men and two women are selected from auditions by a shadowy 'Company' to take part in a webcast in an isolated house, cut off from civilisation by a security fence and miles of snowy wastes. If any one of the five leaves the house, they all forfeit the one million dollar prize money. So the increasingly sinister pranks played on them by an unknown intruder (the housemates eagerly rip open what they think is a food parcel to find it full of bricks, one of the women wakes up to find a blood-soaked hammer on her pillow) are interpreted by Rex (Kris Lemche), a cynical and embittered computer hacker, as attempts by the Company to trick them into leaving. When one of the others is contacted with news of his grandfather's death, Rex urges him not to leave to attend the funeral: he can hold a memorial service in the yard, Rex insists. Rex makes no bones about his selfish motives for joining the webcast, freely admitting that he's in it for the money, not the reasons of personal growth trumpeted by the others in their auditions. But his suspicions are confirmed by events, and his computer hacking skills reveal the grisly truth behind the webcast.
   My Little Eye uses the probing movements of the web-cam to underscore the growing unease of the 'housemates', often prying on them from outside windows and through doors from darkened corridors. Instead of creaking doors, the whizzing wheeze of the camera's hydraulics serves to ratchet up the suspense. Not for director Marc Evans the hand held faux vérité approach of The Blair Witch Project - his CCTV cameras in this home in on the housemates steadily and remorselessly, the night vision picking out strangers prowling in darkened rooms. My Little Eye's denouement is nastier than Blair Witch, and if anything owes more to Blair Witch's less hyped predecessor The Last Broadcast (even down to the method of one of the murders). The grisly mind-games played by the Company could perhaps be seen as a comment on the directorial techniques said to have been inflicted on the cast of Blair Witch!
   As an exploration of the aesthetics of stalk 'n' slash movies, My Little Eye's vision is more unsettling than the smart-arse postmodernism of the Scream series. This especially true, when the killer follows a murder, not by snarling, gloating or frothing at the mouth, but by turning wearily to his fictional and real audience and asking: "was that okay?" While many of its shots nod to the voyeurism of Psycho, with its implication of the viewer in the violence it's more of a 21st century update of that film's reviled UK counterpart Peeping Tom. For the watcher, this leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, especially in the light of the DVD's alternative version, which allows you to put yourself in the shoes of whatever psychopath would actually log on to a 'snuff' webcast like the one portrayed. Having said that, the housemates are so clich�d and unsympathetic that you don't feel too cut up (no pun intended) about what happens to them. Whether the 'interactive' option adds to the film's verisimilitude or just descends into gimmicky overkill I'm not sure, (partly because I rented the DVD and consequently couldn't access the secret password), but this pandering to the audience's voyeuristic tendencies sits uneasily with the film's savaging of voyeurism.
   DVD features - disc one: standard viewing mode in Dolby digital 5.1 audio, with English subtitles and audio commentary by director and producer. Interactive browser mode so viewer can 'log on' as Internet subscriber via password hidden inside packaging, to access the following features� Selected scenes viewed from different cameras, archive footage (deleted scenes), housemates' audition tapes, secret movements of the Company within the house, eavesdropping on conversations of the people working for the Company, monitor changes in the housemates' files as events unfold. Disc two: nine deleted scenes (with commentary by the director and producer), The Making Of My Little Eye featurette (30 minutes), stills gallery, trailers, and TV spots.
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