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Many of us now realise that reality TV has become a tired and even boring format, often watching out of habit than interest. Production companies are constantly trying to put new spin on existing programming in a hope of drawing larger audiences and generating more income. As a result, these shows are moving towards the extreme, with the term exploitative being used regularly by commentators. One such movie to explore this area is My Little Eye from British director Marc Evans.

My Little Eye
Movie
A group of five wannabes find themselves applying for a place on a new internet experiment with the incentive of both fame and fortune. All they have to do is live in an isolated house over a six month period without once leaving. They can wonder around the locality in daylight to collect amenities, but must all stay inside at night. The house is littered with hundreds of remotely controlled CCTV cameras constantly broadcasting the housemates’ activities on the web. If they succeed they all win the one million dollar prize and hopefully become super famous, securing their future in an instant.

Everything appears to go well for a while. They set about making the most of the little they are given. All of them at least attempting to stay on good terms with their fellow team mates. Some collecting the food parcels regularly dropped off as rewards, others just lazing about listening to others’ complaints.

Towards the end of their excursion weird things start to happen that unsettles everyone - even the more stable of characters. One of the tame examples involve a surprise food parcel left in a clearing for collection, on bringing it back they discover to their dismay that it’s just a big box of bricks with a letter. On the letter it states one of the character’s grandfathers had died and the funeral is to be held too far away for a trip to be considered within the rules. They have to decide whether or not he should be allowed to go and possibly jeopardize their chance at winning the million.

My Little Eye
My Little Eye combines two genres, that of reality TV and horror. I’ve seen the odd reality TV style movie in the past such as the captivating German film Das Experiment, based on a true story it was both fascinating and original. As such I had high expectation of this movie - thanks to the following it has attracted - which were met on the whole. The clever techniques used to pull the audience into the thick of the action resulted in the most intense and disturbing horror of recent times. That said, towards the end of the movie it deteriorates somewhat into an anticlimax which is only recovered from by a few clever last minute plot twists.

Video
My Little Eye is endowed with a splendid anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. Shot originally on digital video to give it the feel and appearance of a reality show, it should not be expected to match the level of perfection of an epic blockbuster. For a digital video production it is evident that a lot of money has been spent on the digital kit, comparing very well to other similar hits such as 28 Days Later.

This movie is on the most part shot at night from within the house. Night shots are often a good indicator of the quality of the transfer – often giving away the use of higher-than-normal levels of compression – this is not evident on this transfer.

Audio
Offering an incredibly disconcerting experience, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack really does make an impact. Dialogue is always clear, focusing mainly on the front speakers, and effects coming from all directions, this definitely is an immersive offering.

It is worth noting that most of the other features including the interactive half of disc one use ordinary Dolby Surround – possibly for space related reasons.

My Little Eye
Extras
My Little Eye arrives as a two disc special edition, with the bulk of the special features on the second disc. The first disc’s main extra feature is pretty unusual and unique to this movie. Since the movie was filmed from various angles on digital video, it has given the DVD producers the unique possibility of allowing the viewer the watch parts of the movie either normally or from a multi-angle perspective.

To access the interactive mode you are prompted to enter a four digit “credit card” number; of course a normal credit card could never have the credit limit capable of paying for access, so a special number has been hidden somewhere in the packaging for your use. If you have difficulty finding it, there’s a hint in the accompanying booklet.

Once in the system, it loads up and presents a modern multimedia encyclopaedia style design where you can access different features whist the movie progresses. There’s the archive section that gives you access to the deleted scene after they happen. Audition tapes are available from the main menu each lasting a couple of minutes, allowing you to see the rest of the material not used at the beginning of the movie. Then there’s the original idea of an alternate audio track allowing you to hear the crew in charge of the reality show communicating with each other. That combined with a few other minor touches which cannot be mentioned in fear of spoiling the movie, all help to recreate the show’s website. I personally didn’t really like the whole interactive feature, it gets in the way of what you want to see, and finding new things that you hadn’t noticed is interesting but frustrating considering they could so easily have been missed. It’s more of a toy than anything else.

Switching back to standard mode, there’s an additional special feature not available through the interactive system, the commentary. Featuring Director Marc Evans and Producer Jon Finn, they seem to be a couple of down-to-earth blokes; one drinking a beer, the other a Guinness sharing their movie experiences with the listener. It turns out that they shot this movie way before reality shows appeared in the US and UK, it was when the then controversial Big Brother show was only starting to get noticed in Holland. This meant that they had to guess at how such programmes would be shot, noting their pleasure that it was surprisingly close to the real thing. There’s the odd bit of silence but they really do try to minimise it where possible. This is definitely recommended.

My Little Eye
Moving on to the second disc which for some reason has been rated separately (receiving a 15 instead of 18). Starting with the highlight of this disc there’s the making-of featurette that runs for half an hour. It appears to have been commissioned for the DVD specifically by Momentum. Featuring all of the actors plus other people involved in the project, including the Director and Producer. It takes you through the process of making the movie and the struggles they had along the way. For example, one of the movie’s more important test screenings was arranged on 11th September 2001 and unsurprisingly the movie didn’t go down to well. Universal got so worried that they shoved it to the side and eventually lost interest. It wasn’t until Momentum spotted the movie that things got moving again by organising UK distribution. This proved to be very interesting, not the usual promotional fluff.

Then there are eight deleted scenes, this time with the option to view them all at once with or without the commentary by the Director and Producer. They total approximately thirty minutes of extra footage derived from the first cuts, no soundtrack full frame with sound booms and all. Watching these will give a better understanding of the house and provide a useful insight into the background of the characters.

Other special features on this disc include an eight minute long stills gallery with accompanying soundtrack, full trailer, teaser trailer and four TV spots. All pretty standard but worth the look should you have time to kill.

Overall
In the end My Little Eye proved to be a disturbing movie thereby succeeding its film makers’ goals. Their main concern was that the two genres just wouldn’t fit together; often contradicting each other, but this time around they have definitely succeeded. It has been a while since I last enjoyed a good English language horror movie and My Little Eye was a pleasure to watch. If it’s true that Universal genuinely did decide to shelve the movie, then they really do need their heads examined.

My Little Eye
As for the DVD, Momentum and The Pavement have done a great job. Even though I wasn’t that keen on the interactive feature on disc one, it was clear that a lot of time and planning had gone into the making of it. It provides a unique means of accessing extra features that tie in very closely to the movie. Of all the special features the commentary and featurette stand out the most, featurettes are rarely of any value except where a DVD producer has been given the time, money and orders to invest in one. It appears that this was the case here.

Overall I can only recommend that you see this DVD. If you are a horror aficionado then this movie should bring something original to your existing collection. For the reality TV junkies and even passive viewers, I am sure this DVD will offer up some interesting viewing. If after watching this you feel you want to see more, and aren’t afraid of foreign language movies then have a look at the recent German hit Das Experiment. It is based on a true story that occurred at Stanford University in the 70s, the ending isn’t up to much but it’s a brilliant movie nevertheless.


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