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EYE OF THE KILLER

Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Kiefer Sutherland, Henry Czerny, Polly Walker
Director:  Paul Marcus
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Video:  1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Trimark
Features:  See Review
Length:  100 Minutes
Release Date:  October 31st, 2000

Film ***

In my experience, when a film goes straight to video it is often doomed to mediocrity, soon discarded in “bargain bins” alongside copies of  “Vanilla Ice” cds and “pet rocks.”  These films are either lousy or egregious sellouts, the horrible sequels perhaps, to originals that amazed us (Di$ney anyone?).  Both critics and consumers alike view the “straight to video,” or “sell through” as sub-par cinema.  The logic behind this conclusion is a simple one: if the movie is worthwhile, it will debut in the theatre and then go to video.  Thus, many wouldn't give Eye of the Killer a chance because it is a “straight to video.”  Eye of the Killer, would be just another in a continuation of dreadful suspense thrillers, burdened with absurd dialogue and music, annoying character clichés, and a bad guy whose motives are completely asinine.  I too, had come to the conclusion that this film would steal two hours of my life.  As I began to watch the film though, I was pleasantly surprised.

Eye of the Killer is what one might call a “guilty pleasure movie.”  A film that you don't admit you like to your friends, but deep down it's fun just to pop it in when you want to laugh, cry, or even get the living hell scared out of you.  We all have these movies that we won't admit to liking, at least in public anyway.  As I said, Eye of the Killer is one of these movies.  While not worthy of a best picture Oscar, I felt that it is a gripping film that certainly beat the hell out of some of the tripe on the market today (Anything with Freddie Prinze Jr. for one, but especially Wing Commander and Boys and Girls) and it shouldn't have been a “Direct to Video release,” sitting humiliated with copies of Little Mermaid 2: Back to the Sea, or the horrible "Troma” film, Sgt. Kibukiman. 

As you can undoubtedly tell, I greatly enjoyed the storyline of the film.  Detective Mickey Hayden (Sutherland), is a raging alcoholic, driven to his habit by having to go from night to night, seeing the raw and twisted side of humanity.  Mickey is tortured by dreams constantly, and one night when he's out chasing a shoplifter, he falls unconscious.  Upon awakening, he finds that his injury has given him a “gift,” as he now has the ability to feel and see psychic images whenever he touches the belongings of a victim.  This will horrify him as he plays “catch up” with a notorious serial killer, who has been inactive for the last ten years. 

The acting of this film was quite solid as well.  Sutherland is perfectly cast as the tortured Mickey Hayden; a good cop who has had more than he can take and has turned to alcohol to stop the agony inside.  Henry Czerny also did a great job; both in moving the story forward, and helping the viewer understand what the psychic visions meant.  Even though I didn't recognize many of the cast by name beyond Sutherland, I think that they all did a fantastic job of both keeping the stories taut pace, and keeping the viewer guessing, and guessing wrongly. 

Video ***

The picture was nice and dark, which was just what the film wanted to convey.  Flesh tones were picked up with clarity and the overall coloring of the film was very thematic.  The only downside to the film was the lack of anamorphic support, which was a disappointment. 

Audio **1/2

The audio was in pro-logic surround sound, but that's almost to be expected a low budget film such as this.  The sound wasn't that aggressive but I think it was used as much as the film needed it.  The surrounds provided an eerie sound or two occasionally, even though it wasn't in 5.1.  Sob! 

Subtitles tracks were in French, Spanish, and English (now there's a concept!).   

Features *

What?  Only one trailer?  Man, that's a look back to the first days of DVD.  What a major disappointment, there could have been at least a director's commentary or a featurette that could have explained the movie or given some insight into how it was made or why it only came out on video.

Summary:

In conclusion, I found this film to be a well-done suspense drama with clever character portrayals that kept the reader wildly curious as to what would transpire next.  The audio and video proved average, while the supplements horrible.  If you want to see a good game of “Cat and mouse,” give it a spin; you might just be surprised.