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Antonio Sabato Jr.,
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EVIL EYES takes a couple of good actors and a decent idea for a plot, then sinks it under an avalanche of bad writing and directing.
Adam Baldwin (not related to Alec and company) plays Jeff, happily married to Tree (I didn't make that up, it's the character's name) and trying to succeed in L. A. as a screenwriter. He gets an offer from George, a producer looking for someone to develop a script about a multiple murder 35 years ago.
It seems that a filmmaker named Gramm went quite mad and slaughtered his family. Jeff visits the house where the murders took place, and soon sets to work. As time passes he realizes that what he writes in the script also happens in real life, and to people he knows.
This is perilously close to Stephen King's short story "Word Processor of the Gods" but this film is obscure enough that King didn't sue.
The film is character driven in that our involvement in the story is proportionate to our involvement in the characters. And that's the sticking point.
The characters are not involving. Jeff and George are played by two competent actors who bring presence to their roles. The other actors range from competent to awful. A "tense" scene in which Tree's parents try to persuade her that Jeff must abandon the screen writing project goes nowhere because all three performers are terrible. It's hard to get the old adrenaline pumping when people are reading crucial dialog as if they were reciting the alphabet.
The direction is unimpressive, and the staging of the climax is done so ineptly that any impact is lost. The "surprises" revealed in the narrative just lie there.
I don't think these are bad actors: they're actors delivering bad performances. The director's mind may have been on delivering shocks and gore and he just didn't worry about the actors.
I've done a little directing and quite a bit of acting (all on stage) and watching this I wish I could have had time to work with the actors to help them find the humanity in their characters and connect with them; can you tell I'm a product of the 1960's and a believer in Stanislavski's theory of Method Acting, the search for "theatrical truth" in which actors look for the motivation and feelings of the characters and try to connect this with experiences from their own lives to help them relate to the characters they are playing?
Visually, it's a mixed bag. Some scenes are atmospheric, using light and shadow effectively. Others aren't.
Still, kudos to The Asylum to making a film that's not a direct rip-off a bigger piece of work.
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