Close Your Eyes

Wow, it's been a while since a bad supernatural thriller (pretty much a redundant term) has made its way to theaters. The Order came and went so quickly that few people noticed. Part of the reason this genre has ebbed is that the market was somewhat saturated with similar films right around the millennium, which seemed like a pretty good time to release movies. Now comes Close Your Eyes, originally titled Doctor Sleep (hey, The Order's original name was The Sin Eater). Presumably the name change was to make the film sound less boring, but it will still manage to put some people to sleep, only because it shrouds its story behind so many walls and shadows that it's hard to figure out what is going on, and it's hard to care.

Close Your Eyes seems more concerns about how it looks rather than what is going on. On this aspect, director Nick Willing (Photographing Fairies) does a pretty decent job. The general tone of the movie is spooky, and there are some interesting visuals. The best appears (unfortunately) near the very beginning, when Dr. Michael Strother (Goran Visnjic, Ice Age, The Deep End) is hypnotizing police officer Janet Losey (Shirley Henderson, Intermission, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself). Strother is an American expatriate, who relocated to London with his pregnant wife Clara (Miranda Otto, The Return of the King, The Two Towers) because of something that happened in America (which will eventually come to light). He spends his time hypnotizing his patients to stop smoking, and everything goes fine until he and Losey both see an image of a drowning girl in their vision.

The young girl, Heather (Sophie Stuckey, I Capture the Castle) is the only survivor of a vicious serial killer. The trauma was too much for her, and she doesn't speak. There are also strange markings on her arms. Losey convinces the police and an extremely reluctant Strother to help, and under hypnosis she utters what sounds like Latin. At this point, Close Your Eyes, based on the novel Doctor Sleep by Madison Smartt Bell and adapted by Willing and William Brookfield (Milk, Rough Magic) toes the line between suspense and boredom. It's boring because there is nothing that original in the story. Losey gets the help of Elliot Spruggs (Paddy Considine, In America, 24 Hour Party People), a random kooky guy who knows a lot about Church lore and some of the more heretical aspects of Church history.

It looks increasingly likely that this serial killer has some connection to religion, and the investigation begins! It moves forward by pure luck, with Losey and Strother stumbling upon clues by sheer chance. Strother is also suffering from insomnia, which will also eventually play into the story. Close Your Eyes is just not that suspenseful, and Willing wastes the talents of his actors. Henderson is usually fantastic, but the Losey role is not a great fit for her (at least as it was here). Otto was completely wasted (for a great role see what she did in Human Nature). Visnjic comes off the best, but that's not saying much. His performance is just kind of bland, like the rest of the film. Every time things begin moving really slow, Willing throws some blood around to pick things up. The story focuses on Strother and Losey's investigation, and seems to somehow gloss over the fact that a serial killer is running around. Because of this, events don't seem as urgent as they should, which, unfortunately, causes Close Your Eyes to move slowly, thus allowing the title to take on the unintended meaning of falling asleep.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 48 minutes, Rated R for language and violence.

Back to Movies