In the effectively creepy "Close Your Eyes", "ER" regular Goran Visnjic retains his medical license as a psychic hypnotherapist who's recruited by British police to uncover the identity of a traumatized young girl's twisted kidnapper.
Based on the novel "Doctor Sleep" by Madison Smartt Bell, the atmospheric psychological thriller weaves a compelling web thanks to dense, stylized direction by Nick Willing and a smartly assembled cast.
The First Look release, shot in 2001, is certainly worth a look, though it's done no favors by a title that can be too easily confused with Alejandro Amenabar's "Open Your Eyes", not to mention "Close My Eyes", a 1991 Alan Rickman-Clive Owen film.
In his first lead feature role,
Visnjic carries a soft-spoken authority as Dr. Michael Strother, who has relocated to London with his very pregnant wife (Miranda Otto) and daughter Lauren Gabrielle Volpert) after leaving behind some unpleasant business back home in America.
Hoping to start again with a small practice helping patients to quit smoking, he's sidetracked by a detective (dark-eyed Shirley Henderson) who has been working on the case of a girl (Sophie Stuckey) rendered speechless after being kidnapped by a presumed ritual killer.
The pair embark on a rather unorthodox procedural that leads them down an eerie path filled with spooky old churches and the liturgies of 16th century religious fanatics.
Director Willing, who also adapted the script with William Brookfield, knows a thing or two about mood-setting, having helmed the lavish NBC miniseries "Alice in Wonderland" and "Jason and the Argonauts".
Here, he allows the intrigue to unfold against a bleak contemporary London backdrop that appears to be in a constant state of transition, from the dusty construction sites that surround Strother's working environment to those imposing houses of worship that have been converted to everything from theaters to luxury apartment complexes.
Given the Gothic window dressing, all Vijsnic, Henderson and company (also including Paddy Considine, Fiona Shaw and Corin Redgrave) are required to do is to act naturally, and they admirably resist the temptation to nibble on all that tasty scenery.
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