Eye Without a Face has Clear Vision, But Short-Sighted

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Eye Without a Face

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” 

--Andy Warhol


The result of the social media revolution of the late 2000’s was the democratization of celebrity. During Hollywood’s Golden Era, performers had to spend years learning their craft, toiling in obscurity to pay dues and earn their iconic statuses, but in the post-YouTube world anyone with a cell phone and some spare time can ride the viral rocket to internet stardom, fulfilling pop-art guru Warhol’s most well-known pop-cultural prophecy along the way. And with an increasing amount of our individual lives taking place online, privacy itself has devolved into an uncomfortable form of currency: we willingly expose the portions of our lives we want others to see in exchange for Likes, Shares and Subscribers, yet feel betrayed and even fearful if the information we don’t disclose becomes known.

It’s this dangerous double-edged digital-age blade that Gravitas Ventures and Red Arrow Studios sharpens with their latest release, Eye Without a Face. The titular ocular reference in this case represents the webcam that sloppy, unshaven-yet-cute shut-in Henry (Dakota Shapiro) uses to watch the world. Living in the house he’s inherited from his parents, Henry’s agoraphobia and trauma-induced social anxiety have shriveled his youthful existence to a single room--a dark, cluttered nerd cave that has as its beating heart the computer which is Henry’s only source of outside contact beyond his vain, self- (and selfie-) obsessed Aussie renter, Eric (Luke Cook). Henry’s loneliness has become a corrosive spiritual dry rot, and he occupies his days watching a variety of women around Los Angeles through their own webcams that he’s hacked into, existing voyeuristically through the lens as he spies on their lives. Far from a Peeping Tom intent only on self-gratification, Henry’s interest is perversely sexless: considering the women to be his ‘friends’, he instead takes pleasure in their daily triumphs and sympathizes to the point of tears with their tiny tragedies. Rowdy Eric insists Henry’s own medication-induced desensitized state causes his obsessive fascinations, but when Laura (Vlada Verevko), the foremost object of Henry’s curiosity, seems to drug a male date and is subsequently seen dragging a heavy garbage bag across the floor, he begins to suspect he’s witnessing the machinations of a budding femme fatale serial killer. Or is the devil-masked murderer Henry glimpses on-camera and in his dreams merely the manifestation of something from his own blackened past?

There are many powerful statements that writer-director Ramin Niami poses in Eye Without a Face--ruminations on reality versus fantasy, the illusory nature of the online experience, the use, abuse, and ultimate loss of anonymity in cyberspace, the fracturing of the family unit. Henry is portrayed as shy to the point of incapacitation due to the physical torments inflicted by his own father, and flashbacks reinforce the idea that previous generations can cast dark shadows over our lives. Tight, steady-handed directing infuses the storyline with a suffocating, claustrophobic dread, and throughout the film there’s extensive use of clever plot misdirection and directorial legerdemain that shifts the audience’s attention away from the movie’s true culprit, though the generated suspense is frittered away and eventually fails to satiate. The final resolution to the crimes Henry observes through his faceless eye is entirely predictable to any viewer who’s ever made even a passing acquaintance with Norman Bates, and this well-trod familiarity robs strength from the rock-in-the-fist haymaker climax the creators intended to throw, turning what could have been the Millennial generation’s Rear Window into another forgettable Psycho retread.

Aspiring to Hitchcock, Eye Without a Face, in the end, finishes out with a slightly-above-average score of 3 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale.

3.0 / 5.0