My Little Eye (18)
Global obsession with Big Brother-style reality television means this film – or another like it – was always a dead cert.
And while My Little Eye, from rising Welsh filmmaker Marc (House of America, Resurrection Man) Evans, fades somewhat towards its finale, it nevertheless raises some deeply unsettling questions about the hypnotic nature of voyeuristic TV.
The plotting is simple. Five strangers, selected from hundreds of applicants over the Net, hole up together in a remote house somewhere in wintry America. Their goal? Stay the six-month course in the house with no outside contact and win a cool $1 million.
We enter the story in the final days of the competition. The group – bookish Emma, sexy Charlie, awkward Danny, laddish Rex and superfit Matt, all played by unknowns – have reached the point where emotions, libidos and nerves are beginning to fray. Something’s going to give; the burning question is whether it happens before they leave the house. If so, and one of them quits, they forfeit the cash.
So things take a definite turn for the peculiar when their regular packages from the outside – supplied by the mysterious ‘company’ that is broadcasting their 24-hour existence over the web – start to contain items other than food. Like bricks. And a revolver. With bullets.
To the five inhabitants, these link into long suppressed stories from their pasts. And when a bloody hammer is found on Emma’s pillow, and messages (“Sick bitch”) appear on the icy windows, the group begins to realise that someone, somewhere, is not playing fair, and the game may have a new name: murder.
Part whodunnit, part thriller, part atmospheric shocker, My Little Eye benefits enormously from Evans’ playful sense of dread. He piles on the clichés but uses them incredibly effectively to ratchet up the tension. At one point he deliberately upsets the dynamic by introducing a mysterious outside who arrives, stays a few hours and, in that time, manages to seduce one of the girls. It is the first real harbinger of the deadly games-playing to come.
The movie also borrows heavily from the likes of Battle Royale (schoolkids are abandoned on an island and told to kill each other until only one survivor remains), Halloween (a serial killer stalks a town), and The Blair Witch Project (a film crew goes mad under the influence of a legendary witch).
The latter comes most easily to mind, but it would not be fair to lump My Little Eye with it. Certainly it enjoys some of the same jerky, jarring camera techniques, but this is altogether a more polished affair, and equally (if not more) frightening.
Evans enjoys himself when tackling the themes of trust and betrayal, considering the naïve nature of people and how easily they can be duped. While the film unravels towards the end it nevertheless packs a genuine punch, and the gradual erosion of the five’s social order is sinister, creepy and tangible. In the end it’s all about control.
On the back of this and movies like Resurrection Man, Marc Evans is certainly one to watch. My Little Eye isn’t the scariest movie of the year, but it’s not far from it.
Edgy, compelling, visceral and deeply cynical.