In one of the most gripping opening scenes I have ever watched, a little girl runs from a man. She is dirty and bruised, and has obviously just escaped from his captivity. She runs onto a train track, as it is her quickest route to safety. As she follows it over a bridge, she’s suddenly faced with an oncoming train. Behind her, the man gains ground. Either way means death. It has been one minute since the film began.
This is “Close Your Eyes,” a surprisingly effective horror/thriller produced by a company not known for such films: the BBC. In it, Goran Visnjic (television’s “ER”) plays an amazingly gifted hypnotherapist whose talents seem almost supernatural. He is called in to help a child who has been struck mute after witnessing a serial killer and, ultimately, to help find the killer himself. His search leads him, along with a cute, feisty detective played by Shirley Henderson, into the world of a centuries-old pagan religion.
It’s quite good. The visuals are (for the most part) creative, and the tension slowly builds. The score sounds, a lot of the time, like something Bernard Herrmann (“Psycho”) would have written, which is appropriate because the film feels like an old-school psychological thriller. There isn’t much gore, but that didn’t stop me from squirming during at least one scene.
“Close Your Eyes” won’t likely win any awards, but it is a solid effort and a decent sleeper. When you get sick of watching all the recent horror remakes and sequels, check it out.
Pros: Goran has the doctor thing down pat by now. Creepy imagery.
Cons: Plot direction doesn’t always come naturally from the characters’ investigation, but is fed to them. Some viewers may feel it moves too slowly.
Review Rating: 3.5 out of 5 rats in a (rib)cage
“Close Your Eyes” (2002)
103 Minutes; UK
Rated R for violence and language.
Also known as: “Doctor Sleep”; “Hypnotic”
Goran Visnjic (Dr. Michael Strother)
Shirley Henderson (Janet Losey)
Paddy Considine (Elliot Spruggs)
Miranda Otto (Clara Strother)
Corin Redgrave (Chief Inspector Clements)
Claire Rushbrook (Grace)
Directed by: Nick Willing
Viewing Format: Import DVD
(Originally published on HorrorWatch)