The Eye (2008) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

The Eye 2008 Explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at 2008’s The Eye

After blind successful violinist Sydney Wells (Jessica Wells), receives an eye transplant, she begins to see ghosts, shadow figures, and mysterious visions.

Is The Eye (2008) Scary?

The Eye has a lot of jump scares, in fact, the only way it tries to be scary is through jump scares. Some work, some don’t and if you’ve seen enough horror movies, you’ll see them coming a mile away. Other than that there’s no real sense of suspense and only one scene in an elevator is actually creepy.

In the end, you won’t leave The Eye afraid of anything except people facing the wrong way in an elevator but you should already be afraid of that.

The Eye (2008) Full Plot Summary:

The film opens in Mexico with shots of a woman in a basement expressing her guilt over something as she prepares to hang herself. Outside the home, the word “Bruja” (which means witch) has been spray painted on it and several children throw rocks at the house while yelling “bruja”.

As the woman steps up on a chair and places a noose around her neck, she looks over and sees some kind of shadow figure appear. She apologizes and we only see the chair violently thrown against a wall. 

It’s implied she died though. This is a PG-13 horror movie so not seeing a body still means death. The editing in this scene also randomly cuts back and forth to a black screen so we never see a full image of the woman, the basement, or the figure.

Sometime later we open on our main character Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) a blind accomplished violinist who lost her eyesight at 5 years old. Over the next few scenes, we see how she lives her life and we learn from her doorman Miguel (Danny Mora) that she has a cornea transplant surgery scheduled for the next day.

Jessica Alba as Sydney Wells and Danny Mora as Miguel in 2008's The Eye
“How ironic would it be if your transplant led to you seeing horrific things you don’t want to see… anyway good luck!”

Title screen! 

And we cut right to post-surgery with Sydney waking up in the hospital sharing a room with Mrs. Hillman, an unresponsive elderly woman being kept alive by machines. Another patient, nine-and-a-half-year-old Alicia (Chloe Grace Moretz) decides to visit Sydney because apparently there’s no one watching the sick children.

Alicia tells Sydney that she has a golf ball-sized thing in her head and is waiting for surgery to take it out but she’ll return when Sydney can see.

Later Sydney’s sister. Helen (Parker Posey). arrives and stays with her while her bandages are removed. Though the surgery was successful, Sydney will have blurry vision until her eyes fully heal. 

While the doctor checks her vision, she sees a figure standing on the far side of the room but there’s nothing actually there. Sydney doesn’t say anything because I can only assume she thinks everyone sees weird figures just randomly popping up and disappearing all the time. 

That night through her blurry vision, Sydney sees a dark figure standing over Mrs. Hillan and hears her say she “doesn’t want to go”. Mrs. Hillman and the dark figure proceed to leave the room together while Sydney calls out to her. 

Sydney puts on her “Not Gonna Mind My Own Business” cap and decides to follow. In the hallway the dark figure and Mrs. Hillman disappear but don’t worry, Hillman reappears in a random jumpscare behind Sydney. Hillman disappears once again and moments later reappears, hovering toward Sydney and telling her she’s freezing.

She disappears because this is the worst version of peekaboo, especially when you’re playing against someone who can barely see. The following morning Sydney wakes up and learns from a nurse that Mrs. Hillman passed away the night before.

Several days later, before leaving the hospital, Sydney visits Alicia to say goodbye. Alicia asks Sydney to take a picture with her and unfortunately, it’s one of those pesky cameras where the film has to be taken to be developed. I bet there’s gonna be some weird shit in that picture.

That night Sydney is home alone when she hears the sound of her oven turning on. As she opens the oven door, the sounds go away but there’s a jumpscare when loud fire shoots out of it and engulfs her. 

This turns out to be a dream because you can’t kill off the main character before the final act. Waking up in a panic, Sydney momentarily sees her surroundings change to that of a house and then change back to her apartment. 

Sydney wakes up from a nightmare and sees her room transform in 2008's The Eye
Someone needs to get their eyes checked

The following day Sydney meets with a specialist, Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola), who was recommended to her by the hospital to help her transition from blind to sight. Faulkner will be helping her over the course of the next several weeks but he immediately appears distant and has a habit of constantly putting his glasses up.

Alessandro Nivola as Dr. Paul Faulkner in 2008's The Eye
Dudes such an expert at seeing, he doesn’t even need to wear glasses correctly

That night, Sydney is at home teaching herself how to read music when she hears the sounds of a child crying out in the hallway. Because she hasn’t learned from the Mrs. Hillman jumpscares, Sydney goes out to investigate. 

Unsurprisingly there’s a jumpscare when a child appears in the hallway wearing a rain jacket. The boy asks Sydney if she’s seen his report card and honestly, it didn’t matter what he asked, any question would be creepy at this point. 

The boy looks toward someone behind Sydney causing her to turn around but there’s no one there. Upon turning back to the boy, he’s now gone and I guess we’re just cool with this since Sydney doesn’t appear to question this further.

The following day Sydney has some trouble focusing during rehearsal and her conductor, Simon (Rade Serbedzija) takes her out for an expresso. While Simon goes up to the counter to grab their order, Sydney spots a woman watching her. In an echoing voice, the woman vaguely threatens Sydney and disappears.

Sydney sees a ghost in a cafe in 2008's The Eye
She didn’t need to disappear for us to know she’s a ghost

In another jumpscare, the woman reappears in front of Sydney and lunges at her. Sydney falls back knocking a waiter and several chairs on the ground. As Sydney rushes out, there’s a strange close-up shot of another waiter looking toward her as if he knows something. This never comes up again so what the fuck?

That night at 1:06 am Sydney has another nightmare which includes flashes of a dark figure, a young girl behind a car’s window screaming, and scenes of the bruja intro we saw earlier. Since that shit was weird, the following day Sydney asks Paul to run some tests on her eyes but they all come back normal, and he’s a real dick about it.

Paul basically implies that Sydney is making all this up because she can’t cope with the fact that she is no longer “special”. Sydney calls him an ass and he laughs it off before walking away.

Paul tells Sydney there's nothing wrong with her eyes in 2008's The Eye
This is the guy that is supposed to help transition people to the real world?… Oh wait, that checks out

That night, Sydney sees smoke seeping in from under her door and when looking out the peephole, she sees a dark figure at the end of the hall. Another jumpscare as the figure randomly lunges at her. Jumping back Sydney sees she’s now surrounded by smoke as her apartment is now on fire.

Her apartment changes into what looks like a small ceramics factory that has the unfortunate situation of being on fire. Random people engulfed in flames run past Sydney with one lunging at her, grabbing and burning her arm.

This turns out to be another nightmare at 1:06 a.m. causing Sydney to wake up in a panic. Looking at her arm, Sydney sees several large burn marks where she was grabbed but they disappear moments later. 

Shocked at what she’s seeing, Sydney leaves her home and attempts to call Helen while wandering the city. As she crosses a street, a woman walks directly through her meaning that’s a ghost. The two exchange shocked glances at each other and a few feet away, Sydney sees the aftermath of a car accident. 

Walking over, she discovers the victim is the same woman she just walked through. The woman along with a figure (which I’m just going to call reapers because it’s obvious that’s what they are) reappears in front of Sydney.

The reaper pulls the woman away and notices that Sydney can see it. I’m assuming that’s a no-no in their book because the reaper opens its mouth and growls before leaving with the woman.

Sydney runs to a local Chinese restaurant, sits in a booth, and leaves Paul a message asking for help. As she hangs up, things around her ignite on fire while the rest of the patrons, chef, and waitress don’t seem to mind or pay any attention to her. Sydney drops to the ground as a large explosion engulfs the entire restaurant.

Uncovering her eyes, Sydney now sees she’s in the remains of a burned-down restaurant and touches one of the counters to ensure it’s real. Paul appears in a jumpscare and says the restaurant burned down weeks ago. DUN DUN DUNN

Sydney tells him about everything she saw but he remains adamant that it’s all in her head. Eventually, Sydney storms off and heads back home but when about to get on the elevator, she sees another spirit facing the corner. Sydney decides “fuck that” and gets on the next elevator instead.

Sydney sees a ghost in the elevator in 2008's The Eye
Even if you weren’t seeing ghosts, you don’t get on any elevator where you see someone doing this

While heading up, the man appears on this elevator and starts floating toward Sydney but she’s able to get off before he reaches her. On her floor, she spots the boy from earlier who asked about his report card and then sees him jump out of a hallway window. In a panic, Sydney runs to the window, finds it closed, breaks it with her elbow, and looks down to see no one is there.

Walking back to her apartment, the boy reappears behind Sydney and chases after her. She’s able to get inside before he reaches her and, since these ghosts don’t know they can walk through doors, Sydney is safe. But, that was the last straw as she decides to break all her lamps and lights.

Days later as Sydney hasn’t responded to any of Helen’s calls, Helen reaches out to Paul and asks him to check on her. Miguel the Doorman lets Paul into the apartment and they find Sydney under her blankets with a towel taped around her eyes. Paul assumes Sydney isn’t coping with transitioning to seeing and tries to connect with her.

Paul tries to find out whats wrong with Sydney in 2008's The Eye
“Listen, I get it, surgery is tough. In 1997 my brother had his face taken off and given John Travolta’s face in surgery… It’s a whole thing.”

Paul notices the wounds on Sydney’s arm from elbowing a window and takes her to the hospital to get treated. That night at the hospital, Alicia returns but it’s clear she didn’t survive her surgery. Sydney sees a dark figure with her and tries to stop her from going with it but the two disappear.

The following morning Helen visits Sydney at the hospital and gives her a card that Alicia’s mother wanted her to have. Opening the card Sydney sees the picture she took with Alicia but questions who the woman with Alicia is. Helen tells her it’s her but Sydney denies it and runs to the bathroom mirror.

Looking at her reflection, Sydney sees her reflection is not of Jessica Alba but instead of the woman we saw at the start of the film being called a witch (Fernanda Romero). 

It’s time for an early 2000s horror movie research montage! At home, Sydney researches something called Cellular Memory, a theory that all living tissue has the capacity to remember and can cause recipients of organs to mimic the behaviors of the donor or even recall their memories.

Sydney takes the information to Paul who is already fully aware of that phenomenon but says that corneas aren’t large organs so the same couldn’t happen. Sydney asks him to find out who the original donor was but Paul refuses and says that can cost him his license. As a rebuttal, Sydney angrily says, “By all means, hold on to that license.” which is the absolute worst attempt to convince someone that I’ve ever heard.

That night while Helen is staying with Sydney, Sydney looks at her reflection and once again sees the other woman. The other woman forces Sydney to open her eyes and makes her see the same visions of fire, a trapped girl, and the number 106. Sydney assumes the other woman is showing her how she died.

Ana forces Sydney to watch some visions in 2008's The Eye
Thought she was going for the mouth and I had a traumatic flashback to the jaw separation scene in Mirrors

The following day with no plan or any idea on how to get private medical records released to her, Sydney hops in a taxi but luckily Paul shows up with impeccable timing. Paul tells Sydney the donor was a woman from Mexico named Ana Christina Martinez and offers to take her on a 15-hour drive there.

There’s no explanation on why he decided to change his mind or why he would all of a sudden be willing to risk his license. The movie just needed to continue I guess.

Paul randomly agrees to help Sydney in 2008's The Eye
“The way you said ‘hold on to that license’ convinced me I shouldn’t… Also, you’re Jessica Alba.”

The next day the two are in Mexico and track down Ana’s mother, Rosa (Rachel Ticotin) who immediately recognizes her daughter’s eyes in Sydney. Rosa tells them Ana was able to see into the spiritual world and could tell when someone was about to die. Presumably, this is because she saw a reaper hanging out near the person.

Others began to believe Ana was cursed and called her a witch. One night Ana attempted to warn the ceramics factory, where Rosa worked, that a lot of people there were about to die but they didn’t listen. Many people died while others escaped with severe burns like Rosa. People in the town blamed Ana for the fire and deaths, leading to her taking her life. 

As Rosa finishes her story, Sydney notices a reaper standing near a cabinet behind her. Sydney tells Paul to call an ambulance as Rosa falls to the ground and has a heart attack. It was nice of the reaper to wait until Rosa was done speaking though.

Sydney meets Ana's mom Rosa played by Rachel Ticotin in 2008's The Eye
“Do you think if I keep talking I’ll live forever?”

Emilio, Rosa’s at-home nurse, and Paul carry Rosa to the car and drive off to the hospital while Sydney elects to stay behind at the house. Walking around the house, Sydney has a flashback of Ana attempting to warn those at the ceramic factory of all the reapers. 

Sydney then wakes up hours later having fallen asleep on Ana’s bed which is rude, but not as rude as giving someone the ability to see dead people. Sydney hears someone in the house and sees them going into the basement. Following them, she discovers it’s Ana’s spirit replaying her death.

As Ana hangs herself, Sydney breaks the pipe supporting her but she’s too late… also because she’s already dead. Sydney asks Ana what she wants her to do and why she’s been given her visions but Ana ignores this. Instead, she apologizes for not saving everyone and Sydney caresses her as she dies. 

Sydney interacts with Ana's ghosts in 2008's The Eye
So… this trip was a waste?

Moments later Paul returns and informs Sydney that Rosa didn’t make it. The two head back toward the United States but a high-speed car chase on the other side has shut down the border. 

While they wait Sydney notices the trapped girl from her visions is a little girl sitting in a nearby RV. Instead of just being like “That’s weird, that little girl has been in my visions”, Sydney decides it’s better to rush to the RV and bang on the glass which freaks out the little girl.

Sydney discovers the visions she's seen are of the future in 2008's The Eye
She doesn’t say a word and just stares at the girl like this…

Paul pulls Sydney away from the little girl and a future where she’s on a sex predator list but when Sydney looks down the road, she sees several dozen reapers rushing to the area. Sydney runs towards them and hops on a nearby bus where she sees a fuel truck numbered 106 behind it. 

Sydney realizes the visions Ana has been giving her were not of Ana’s death but of the future. With the pieces in place, the vision tells us something will happen that will cause fuel truck 106 to explode and kill the dozens of people stuck at the border, including the little girl in the RV. Basically, this has turned into Final Destination.

Sydney convinces Paul that everyone is about to die and the two yell “bomb” causing everyone on the bus to evacuate. The two then alert everyone else waiting in traffic and, as you can imagine, it’s not the most organized evacuation. 

The RV little girl’s mom decides to go out and check what all the commotion is about and is immediately knocked down by someone running by. Meanwhile, the guards at the border spot several cars speeding towards the border which happens to be the high-speed chase mentioned earlier.

The cars and subsequent police cars smash through the border, ignoring jurisdiction, and crash into the fuel tank. As a trail of fire starts, Paul notices the RV girl’s mother on the ground and Sydney goes to help the little girl. 

The two are able to free the girl from the RV in time and just as the tank explodes the group dives for cover behind a truck. The force of the explosion shatters the window of the truck causing it to explode out toward Sydney’s eyes which I think is how LASIK eye surgery was invented.

The film ends sometime later with Paul and Helen attending one of Sydney’s performances and as it ends, Sydney opens her eyes revealing she’s once again blind.

The Eye (2008) Spoiler Review:

The Eye is okay, I mean it’s a movie. The premise is interesting and it could have been a better horror movie that doesn’t rely solely on jumpscares but instead, the writers chose to focus more on characters and story. That’s a fine thing to do except it doesn’t do a good job at either.

There’s almost no character development in the movie at all and the only character that changes, changes for no reason. Sydney starts off perfectly content with her situation and shows no actual “want” that leads her to get the surgery. In the end, she’s right back where she started, there was no development. 

Of course, you can have a story where a character ends up where they started and has flat development but usually, they’ve learned something, a lesson or a new truth. Here, we just have Sydney having gone through an experience and we don’t see if that changes her at all. If the movie had shown us some of her struggles beforehand it would have been a much more effective character arc.

Then you have Paul, who just decides to randomly help Sydney for no reason. He goes from saying he’ll lose his job to being willing to lose his job, why? It’s never explained and hilariously the movie even points this out by having Sydney ask him why he’s helping. He responds by essentially saying it’s a secret… the fuck?

Finally, Helen, Parker Posey’s character feels under-used especially when there was groundwork laid out that implied she’d have a much bigger role. After Sydney’s surgery, we learn that Helen was responsible and felt guilt for Sydney being blind and after that, Helen becomes just a background character. 

Why not have Sydney confide in her about what she’s seeing? That could have caused Helen to feel guiltier and given her character a larger importance. Helen could have been more involved in the story and her character would have had the “want” to fix what was going on. She could have been the one to steal medical records or threaten Paul and put her whole career on the line because of that guilt she felt.

Besides those character development issues that create the story issues, the characters make dumb decisions. Sydney busts her arm by breaking through a window after seeing a ghost child jump out of it. She knew she was seeing ghosts so why shatter a window? 

Finally, you have the jump scares, it’s jump scare after jump scare that don’t make sense or are forced. Why does Mrs. Hillman lunge at Sydney, why does the ghost in the coffee shop do the same? Based on the ghost in the street that Sydney bumps into and Alicia, ghosts understand or can understand they’re dead so what was with the lunging?

Overall The Eye has an interesting premise and can be sort of entertaining if you don’t think too hard about it. I recommend giving The Eye a watch but only if you need some background noise while you do other things.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 22%

Metacritic – 36

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