06th Aug2021

‘Eye Without a Face’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Dakota Shapiro, Luke Cook, Vlada Verevko, Rebecca Berg, Ashley Elyse Rogers, Evangeline Neuhart, Benedikt Sebastian, Sarah Marie, Patrick Zeller, Spencer Trinwith, Danielle Hope Abrom | Written and Directed by Ramin Niami

Opening with an incredibly creepy scene featuring a woman walking slowly and methodically down a hallway, weapon in hand, shouting out for Henry – swiftly pulling back a sheet to… Hold on, let’s back up a minute. Because that’s what Eye Without a Face does – showing back to an earlier point in time as we meet Henry, an agoraphobic and anxious young man living in Los Angeles, who hacks into the webcams of various young women who inhabit the city. He watches over them in their daily lives, seeing himself as their guardian angel. Or is that guardian creep?

We’re in Rear Window territory with Eye Without a Face, though the plot device of a camera pointed out into an apartment block has been replaced with the more creepier webcam hack – people, people, put some tape over those cameras. Or at least pay bloody attention when the little green light comes on! I joke of course, but Eye Without a Face taps into that inherently creepy urban legend that hackers are watching our every movie via camera on our computers. They’re not really. But it makes for a decent plot device here. Especially considering our leading man is an agoraphobic… It, almost, takes the edge of his creepy behaviour – coming across as a sad and lonely young man, just urging for some female companionship rather than a psycho stalker!

Well for the most part…I did say almost. There’s a brilliant balance here, as Dakota Shapiro (The Affair, Valley Of The Boom), as Henry, walks a VERY fine line between sad obsessive and total psycho creep – you feel as if it weren’t for his agoraphobic tendencies, Henry might just be acting on his creepy impulses he has watching this group of women via their webcams. And those cameras offering an interesting look into these women’s lives. From abusive relationships, obsessive compulsive behaviour, the women Henry watches have lives as sad and pathetic as Henry himself.

Eventually Henry shares his “hobby” with his charming and extroverted roommate Eric (Luke Cook; Dynasty, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina), a Youtuber and struggling actor. As Eric pushes Henry to actually meet the women in real life he unknowingly puts him in danger… as Henry starts to suspect that Laura (Vladka Verevko; South Park, Suits), one of the women he watches is actually a killer.

Yes it’s a cliche, but seeing someone commit a crime and being unable to do nothing about it is still a brilliant trope of the genre. Here it’s teased that Laura is a killer, Henry seeing the aftermath of “something” on her webcam – is that Laura dragging a body across the floor in a bag? Did she put some human organs in a bowl then put them in the fridge to later serve to guests at a dinner party? It seems unlikely but that the question Eye Without a Face ponders. And the question that drives the already unstable Henry further into his agoraphobic madness.

Like I said previously, Eye Without a Face walks the fine line between truth, reality and madness brilliantly and so does actor Dakota Shapiro in the role of Henry. It’s hard not to be impressed with how both he and writer/director Ramin Niami have crafted a film that feels as unstable as its main character. Both character and film getting more and more subtly out of control as time goes on – with a superb, nerve-wracking moment as Henry, his roommate Eric and us, the audience, are left watching Laura “poison” her nephew on camera… or does she? It’s a moment that gets the audience as riled up and, more importantly, invested in what we see as Henry does.

Then the shit really hits the fan! In fact, Eye Without a Face actually heads into some familiar genre territory in its quest to blur the lines of truth and fiction – taking cues from the more over the top, plot-bending, psycho-killer focused giallo movies of Italian cinema! To say anymore would spoil the film but its safe to say that, despite a conclusion that retreads a cliche we’ve seen in numerous genre films before, Eye Without a Face is still a superb giallo-esque thriller that offers an interesting insight into our connection with the online and offline world.

**** 4/5

Eye Without a Face is released in the US on Digital and On Demand on August 10th from Gravitas Ventures. A UK digital release, from Miracle M, follows on August 23rd.

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