Cult Horror Corner: My Little Eye
The breakthrough feature of Welsh director Marc Evans, whose later features include the 2004 Colin Firth psychological thriller Trauma, 2002’s My Little Eye is a low budget horror that mixes found footage scares with a slow building, creepy atmosphere that leads to an all out ending. Co-written by James Watkins, who later achieved success with 2007’s intense Eden Lake and 2012’s mega hit The Woman in Black, My Little Eye is a good effort that focuses more on atmosphere than gore and jumps, but doesn’t quite have the budget to be the minor classic it could be.
The plot isn’t the most original, but is ripe for scares: five contestants are participating in an online reality webcast in which they have to stay inside a house for six months in order to win $1 million; the catch is that if any of them leave, none of them get the money. When the film begins, the six months are nearly up, and tensions are running high. The group hear loud noises at night, they are being sent strange items instead of food, and the alienating Rex (Kris Lemche) is beginning to test the others’ patience. After sensitive Danny (Stephen O’ Reilly)’s Grandfather dies, the whole group slowly begin to succumb to paranoia and loathing, while events outside the house seem to get even stranger.
My Little Eye is an enjoyable little Brit horror that knows its lack of budget and name stars, and so combats this with a tense, unpleasant atmosphere that sets it out from most generic gore flicks. Using repeated use of found footage-esque video camera shots does get slightly irritating after a while, but it also provides the film with the kind of long, static shots that Stanley Kubrick used so fantastically in The Shining, and you’ll find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat just waiting for something sinister to unfold. When these events do unfold, especially towards the end of My Little Eye, it becomes one of the better British horrors of the noughties.
Sadly, it doesn’t always keep up to this standard. In between the jumps, violence and creeps, it gets (whisper it) a bit dull. The characters start off fairly neutral, but slowly, get too unbelievable. For example, Danny is in love with the clever, sympathetic Emma (Laura Regan), who is one of the nicer characters of the film, and gives her a strange statue he’s made as a gift. Knowing that Danny is incredibly emotionally unstable after his Grandfather’s death, Emma decides the best way to tackle this is to mock him behind his back, so that he inevitably hears and breaks down further. It makes her a very inhumane character, and that is really the problem with the script; none of the characters are deserving of our interest, and we often don’t care about what happens to them. In an intense, claustrophobic film like My Little Eye, the audience must like the characters in order to want to root for them and spent time with them, and we don’t; the characters are just shallow and annoying for the most part.
My Little Eye is a good example of how to overcome a low budget by focusing on atmosphere and mood, but in order to be a truly great film in its own right, it needs a script that is more focused on character development and likeability. As it stands, My Little Eye is a creepy mood piece that brings the scares but doesn’t have the acting or characters to make it into anything more than enjoyable.
By Harry J. Ford
Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film
Like Ford On Film on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FordOnFilm/