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"Close Your Eyes" (a.k.a. Doctor Sleep, also the title of the original
book by Madison Smartt Bell) is a taut little spooky thriller for
grown-ups that is very much in the mode of "The X Files," including its
emphasis on the occult and telepathy, or "The Others."
The noisy teen-agers in the back row of the Times Square theater where I saw it were vocally disappointed in its emphasis on the psychological over extreme gore, though there is some on screen violence.
The various accents of the co-stars are explained nicely and their interactions are not at all cliché as we do not get the usual side stories.
Goran Visnjic does the best handsome, sleepy-eyed, insomniac since Al Pacino in the remake of "Insomnia," and, for "E.R." fans, you do get to hear him do a line or two in Croatian, but even his character complains about no sex though he's married to "Lord of the Rings"'s "Eowyn" (Miranda Otto).
Shirley Henderson is nicely brittle as an anxious cop, amidst the otherwise usual Brits from gritty British mysteries. Paddy Considine, the Da of "In America," is suitably different here as a pale weirdo.
Simon Boswell, who has done the music for a lot of noir movies, does a nicely spinetingly soundtrack here.
After a promising start that sees our hero look into a female patient's
mind whilst she is under hypnosis, this psycho-drama quickly
degenerates into the realms of familiarity and becomes a rather turgid
and dull thriller. The story follows that of Michael Strother (Goran
Visnjic), a hypnotist that can also read minds. While treating a
patient (Shirley Henderson) for smoking one day, he has a vision of a
young girl drowning and we later find out that she is the only escaped
victim from a serial killer known as 'The Tattoo killer'. Naturally,
Michael gets drawn in to help the police with their investigation.
A film like this has no end of possibilities for imaginative and exciting sequences, but the movie features very little of them. The best scene...and only good scene, really, comes from the death of one of the central characters, which is one of the most disturbing and painful I have ever seen; an incision is made in his chest and then, while he's still alive, a live rat is inserted into the hole. The thoughts you could have about that are endless! The film does have a good aspect in that there is a lot of tension. Even though the characters are underdeveloped and we don't ever really feel the need to care for them; the film piles on the tension and some scenes are literally nail-biting. Notice I said 'some scenes', though...for every time it works, there's another time where it didn't.
Doctor Sleep is a film that was funded by the BBC, which is ironic as it feels very much like one of those drama series' that the BBC puts out. The director, Nick Willing is also the genius behind two other made for TV outings; remakes of Alice in Wonderland and Jason and the Argonauts. But it's not his direction that makes this feel like made-for-TV, it's the acting that does it. For the most part, it's awful! The actors don't look or sound like they are putting in any effort at all, and most of their voices sound very put on. The ensemble of actors that have been put together is a mixed bag indeed. Goran Visnjic stars, and he's not bad. He's never brilliant, but at least he's believable. Starring opposite him is Shirley Henderson. Her performance is the worst in the movie, and maybe one of the worst ever. She's a good-looking lady, but she can't act. Paddy Considine, who you may remember from the overrated "In America", appears for a little while and he's not bad, and Miranda Otto; the most impressive lady in Lord of the Rings, is very much wasted.
The script is also of note in this film. Of note for being really bad, that is. It feels, at times, like it has been written by a couple of eight year olds. No, that's unfair; a couple of eight year olds and a monkey, a clever monkey even (as stupid ones don't know how to write). Some of the things that the characters say are absolutely ridiculous and totally unrealistic, such as the exchange between Goran and the gasman, and the episode of about 5 minutes where, it seems, the scriptwriters have tried to give Shirley Henderson as many swear words as possible to say.
It's a shame overall as this could have been a decent thriller to rival the big American ones, had they have chosen a better lead actress, hired a professional scriptwriter, been more imaginative and not had the whole thing feel like a poor made-for-TV movie.... oh well.
Nicely done movie in a detective procedural vein that has several
distinct supernatural elements.
The two leads handle their acting work professionally, and they are Goran Visnjic as a hypnotist who has psychic visions and Shirley Henderson as a police detective. The city is subject to the Tattoo Murders and Ms. Henderson is getting nowhere. To quit smoking, she is seeing hypnotist Visnjic. He accidentally reads her mind, revealing a psychic ability. She gets him to work with her by threatening to turn the tax authorities on to his cash business. But as matters develop, we find that he has a personal motivation to help solve this crime.
As they begin to develop clues and somewhat close in on their murderous prey, the story begins to widen out into a story of this peculiar murderer. It reminded me of an entirely unrelated but also British-made movie that also widened out and involved historical psychic elements, namely, Quatermass and the Pit. In both cases, the story ramps up into quite unexpected climaxes.
This movie is not for young children or the squeamish due to some scenes and effects.
Writer/director Nick Willing did a very good job of keeping the action
moving in this thriller (also known as Close Your Eyes, and Hypnotic)
that kept you enchanted throughout.
Of course, the premise of the story is a bit far fetched, that doesn't detract from a good mystery involving a Doctor (played perfectly by Goran Visnjic - "ER"), and a cop (Shirley Henderson - Moaning Myrtle in two Harry Potter films, and Jude in the two Bridget Jones films).
I really liked the way Henderson played the cop. She was believable in a story that didn't make a lot of sense outside the chase for the murderer.
Sophie Stuckey in her first film did a really good job as the object of the search.
OK, first off, I am a total sucker for everything Miranda Otto stars
in, so imagine my surprise when she turned up in this movie. Not only
was she married to Goran Visnijc, a gazillion months pregnant and the
mother of the most annoying kid ever, but that's another story.
I failed to see any good traits in this movie, so I'll just sum up the things that stood out.
I thought the female detective had a very daft name, the first couple of times, I thought she was called Loser. Oh, and minor nitpick, at one point in the movie, Strother calls her Lucy, although the above cast list says something else.
The little girl plot was just stupid.
I fail to see the logic in moving to England for peace and quiet, and ending up near the train tracks.
The icepick and the rat were skeevy, I'll give them points for that.
Think that that's the most important things in this movie, all the rest is just useless plot lines.
In "Close Your Eyes" (aka "Doctor Sleep"), Goran Visnjic plays a hypno-therapist with a secret past that is currently living in the UK. He is enlisted by the police to help them find a child-murderer that...tattoos its victims. This is pretty much a by-the-numbers serial killer thriller until its totally unexpected and absurd climax. Shirley Henderson is fun to watch playing against type as a tough-as-nails cop, and the rest of the supporting cast (Miranda Otto and Paddy Considine) is solid as usual, but the story is boring and there is hardly any suspense. Skippable, unless you easily fall under Doctor Visnjic's hypnotic spell. I do not. My Rating: 3/10
(USA: Close Your Eyes)
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Sound format: Dolby Digital
A sleep psychologist (Goran Visnjic) 'blessed' with the ability to read minds is recruited by London police to probe the psyche of a traumatised little girl who recently escaped from an elusive serial killer.
Typical BBC stuff, all mood and very little action, though the murderer's identity and motives are certainly unique, and there's an extraordinary mind-reading sequence early in the film when Visnjic experiences an alternative 'twilight' reality where the killer seems to operate with impunity. In all other respects, however, the movie is dry as dust: Director Nick Willing (PHOTOGRAPHING FAIRIES) generates very little suspense, even as Visnjic stumbles closer to the maniac's identity, and William Brookfield's half-hearted script (co-written by Willing, based on a novel by Madison Smartt Bell) is timid in all departments.
Without wanting to sound childish, I don't think there are words to describe just how bad a film this really is. I felt bad for some of the actors involved, and maybe the writer wasn't even that bad.. I'm really not sure because i couldn't see past the horrible directing. This might have been the most poorly directed film i've ever seen. It was bad in too many ways to bother elaborating very much, but if you saw this and did enjoy it then that's great; but speaking as someone that loves films (no not a film student), my advice is - don't even consider watching this, not even on the telly. It's 2 hours of your life you'll never get back. You could have been watching paint dry mate.
To describe this film, I will borrow a phrase that the inimitable Pauline Kael had once used: hokum without the fun of hokum. Despite some camera tricks and computer effects, "Doctor Sleep" is plodding. The script is muddled, and Shirley Henderson's amateurish performance as the female detective is a big hindrance. Though it is filmed in London, it takes little advantage of it as a city, and portrays its police as stuck-up buffoons. Besides, when a movie starts with plot elements like hypnosis and mind-reading, who wants to see a far less interesting story involving occult symbols and satanic rituals? I will admit that some scenes work - they can make you a little queasy - but that's it. (*1/2)
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