Movie Review: Video Voyeur finds himself stalked — “Eye Without a Face”

You see a straight razor in a movie, your first thought is “Sweeney Todd.” Even when the movie’s about online voyeurism, you know that straight razor is coming out, and if somebody’s REALLY unlucky, the “stew” is going to have “something special” in it for dinner.

“Eye Without a Face” begins with a tilted camera watching a brunette stalk into the frame, her bloody hand holding such a razor. So we know what we’re getting into, even if it plods its way back to that moment “one week” later.

Dakota Shapiro plays Henry, an agoraphobic with daddy issues, stuck inside the junk-filled/half-ruined LA house he inherited, staring at a whole collection of young women’s intimate lives as he’s hacked their PC webcam.

“I’m their guardian angel,” Henry confides in his Aussie actor renter (Luke Cook). Sure he is.

There’s Sky (Evangeline Neuhart), an unhappy singer-songwriter living with a brute, and Tessa the online sex worker, the over-eager blonde Ella (Sarah Marie) and, oh yes, that brunette.

Laura (Vlada Verevko) has an Eastern European accent, a nice apartment and a lot of dates. Funny thing. Henry sees the dates come in, sees her serve them drinks. But he never notices them leave. And hearing an electric carving knife and seeing how much Laura likes red meat, he has his suspicions.

“I, I…saw it. I’ll show you!”

Vain, shallow womanizer Eric is flippant and skeptical. But he’s just a little bit curious, too.

Writer-director Ramin Niami (“Shirin in Love”) has been making movies few see for years. Here, he’s teamed with (I guess) his daughter/cinematographer Tara Violet Niami for a bit of slumming in horror.

The project is credited as “a film by Ramin Niami and Tara Violet Niami, so perhaps she co-directed. The movies have a rich tradition of “buying your son/daughter their first big screen credit,” so perhaps that’s what’s going on here.

They know what to do with the camera, tilting it, giving us first person stalker’s-eye-view sequences as Henry’s worst fears, that the “angels” he’s guarding are stalked by a Devil-masked slasher.

But the acting’s perfunctory and unaffecting. There’s not much story here, and nothing that’s all that original. There’s virtually no building of suspense, just a lot of Peeping Henry behavior and signs of his quick mental decline, thanks to what he’s experiencing voyeuristically through his PC.

Once the straight razor comes out, we know what’s coming. Just a question of who’s wielding it. The hard work is making us care who that is, and “who’s next.”

MPA Rating: unrated, bloody violence, sexual content, profanity

Cast: Dakota Shapiro, Luke Cook, Vlada Verevko, Ashley Elyse Rogers

Credits: Scripted and directed by Ramin Niami. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:38

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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