Blu-ray Review: White of the Eye (1987)

White of the EyeDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Donald Cammell

Starring: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg, Art Evans, Michael Green, Alberta Watson

In the small desert town of Globe, Arizona, a serial killer is targeting housewives in their homes and leaving their bodies horribly mutilated. Local sound engineer Paul White (David Keith – An Officer & a Gentleman) falls under the suspicion of the police and his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty – Kindergarten Cop), and as Paul tries to prove his innocence Joan uncovers more than she would ever want to know about her husband.

Conceptually, White of the Eye has a pretty straightforward plot and some recognisable – if not the most commercial – faces amongst its cast but in the hands of cult director Donald Cammell (Performance/Demon Seed) it takes on a very different vibe, drawing on prime Argento and De Palma for its ‘shock’ moments and a touch of The Coen Brothers’ style of claustrophobia to keep you on edge.

But for all of its stylistic choices, the fact remains that the film meanders all over the place in terms of what is happening to whom and when it is happening. For example, Cammell introduces a counter-story told in flashback that does pay off in the end but in a conceited and fairly unsatisfactory way, not feeling like the natural conclusion to the events we have spent most of the overly-long running time building up to. Hardcore fans of offbeat thrillers like Blood Simple or Killer Joe may get on board with it a bit more but on the whole it is a well acted and interesting film that is just too much style-over-substance, as behind all of the slow motion smashed bottles and close-ups of eyeballs there really isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before in dozens of slasher/giallo/murder mystery films.

White of the Eye BR Cover

Special Features: Audio commentary by Donald Cammell biographer Sam Umland, Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance documentary looking over the life and career of the rebel filmmaker and features interviews with Cammell and his closest friends, family and colleagues including Nicolas Roeg, Mick Jagger, Kenneth Anger and James Fox, The Argument short film by Cammell, rediscovered and assembled by Cammell’s regular editor Frank Mazzola in 1999, deleted scenes, original theatrical trailer, alternate credits sequence, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh, collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland, and a previously unpublished extract from the memoirs of producer Elliott Kastner, illustrated with original archive stills.

UK Release Date: 31st March 2014

Arrow Films – Website

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