Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pink Eye (2008)

After the delightfully different Eat Your Heart Out, Savage Rose Pictures and Lost Angeles Films return with a darker and even gorier film called Pink Eye. Pink Eye opens on an old, dilapidated mental hospital. The doctors there are using unethical drug treatments on their “patients,” who are usually just bums pulled off the street. One of their “patients” is Edgar (Joshua James), who is hideously deformed and likes to quote Poe (hence his name). Fueled by the drug experiments that turn the patients into raging, homicidal lunatics, Edgar escapes and begins a killing spree in the nearby town.

For such a simple plot synopsis, Pink Eye had quite a convoluted storyline. It bounces back and forth between developing secondary characters too much and not developing main characters enough. For example, precious time is wasted on ancillary characters that exist just to get slaughtered while the star, Melissa Bacelar, is hardly shown at all in the middle of the film. Subplots involving Delilah’s (Melissa Bacelar) family, her boyfriend (Joshua Nelson, who also wrote the script) and two concerned nurses in the mental hospital who suspect the main doctor is up to no good are never developed fully and leave us hanging. It’s like the filmmakers wanted to cram all their friends into one picture, with speaking parts, mind you, but could only spare one scene for each. The result is a bunch of unnecessary characters that pop up only once (or a few times if they’re lucky) before they disappear or get killed off.

Yet, the hodge-podge script is probably the only negative thing I can say about Pink Eye. Everything else, from the acting to the direction to the special FX, was impressive. Technically, Pink Eye is a big step up from Eat Your Heart Out, a film that featured many of the same talent both behind and in front of the camera.

The gore is probably the film’s biggest selling point. For such a low-budget film, it definitely boasts some very graphic, very cringe-worth scenes. One of the opening scenes features a patient in the insane asylum clawing out her own eyes because she sees bugs everywhere. The camera doesn’t flinch (but you will) as she gouges her own eyes with her fingernails and digs deep into her eye sockets, bringing out chunks of flesh, and, eventually, her own eyeballs. There’s also a very effective dinner-table scene that plays like a warped homage to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre where Delilah is tied to a chair and faces the mutilated bodies of her friends and family.

Speaking of Delilah, the wonderful Melissa Bacelar did another fantastic acting job! Keep an eye on this girl; she’ll soon be bigger than she already is! My only gripe is that we really don’t see that much of her, besides at the beginning where she is introduced and the end when she is kidnapped by Edgar. The rest of the cast is wonderful as well, including cameos by indie darlings Raine Brown (Barricade), Alan Rowe Kelly (The Blood Shed), Susan Adriensen (Under the Raven’s Wing) and many familiar faces from Eat Your Heart Out.

The direction, by James Tucker, is very competent for a low budget film and never distracts from the action. The production values, including sound, are also very well done. If you can forgive the messy storyline, Pink Eye is a pleasantly gory film that is surprisingly well done, especially when considering its minuscule budget.

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