Sparkling even if gloomy cinematography gives Eye of the Storm (1999) an A-budget noirish look.
It's surprising how sometimes a film only a couple years old looks so dated, & another could look fresh & current even twenty years later. This one's look is as fresh as today.
To call it a slasher film probably carries too much weight of cheapy sleezo junk film, which this one certainly is not. It has a solid script & is too well acted to be dismissed, even if in its blood & guts quotient, it's a slasher.
Two kids are growing up in the desert at a roadside cafe/gas station/motel. Then one day a bad-ass couple (Wilhelm von Homberg & Ally Walker) drive up, get gas, rob the place, then just for fun kill the parents (Bruce Gray & Barbara Lindsay) in a stunningly brutal sequence witnessed by the youngest boy.
Realizing they've been seen, the couple sets out to kill the witness, & thought they'd succeeded. He survived, but was permanently blinded.
Several years pass. Younger brother Steven (Bradley Gregg; he was played by Adrian Arnold in the opening scenes) is not much help running the roadside cafe. He seems to be mentally off-kilter, never having fully recovered emotionally from what he witnessed.
A couple clues are dropped that Steven maybe kills people who check into the roadside motel rooms, & his older brother Ray (Craig Sheffer) is always on guard to keep this from happening again.
One day an obnoxious old cowboy, Marvin (Dennis Hopper creating a brilliant oddly likeable slimeball character), with his plantinum blonde-wigged girlfriend (an adequate Lara Flynn Boyle) break down near the motel.
Blind Steven at first sniff of the girl goes all slobbery-in-love, & sneaks into the motel room to further sniff Sandra's panties. Even if he might not be as crazy as he's been looking so far, he's still pretty weird.
[SPOILER ALERT!] Ray wasn't present the day the catastrophe changed their lives, so he seems undamaged, but as the story unfolds he's the psycho & Steven (for all his lack of social graces that make him seem nutty) is comparatively normal.
The "surprise" that Steven's not at all a psychopath, but his handsome well-behaved big brother is a completely delusional nutjob, is not really that big a surprise. The whole structure of the film gives it away early on, as nothing about the film cries "tasteful." So the only reason not to show us definitively that Steven was the knife-weilding psycho when it was first implied would have to be because he wasn't the one. So I expected it, & expected to be disappointed if that's as "clever" as the story ever got.
But it didn't dsappoint me one whit. In fact the manner by which Steven becomes Sandra's defender, while Ray stalks about in a fullblown psychotic break, is well played both for emotional value & for seedy slasher value.
In its odd way, how Steven bucks up, & learns to be his own man, is deep stuff for a slasher film to attempt. The panty-sniffing dork turns into a hero who you can understand might grow on Sandra very warmly. [END SPOILERS]
The title Eye of the Storm doesn't really fit the film, punning though it is. Steven's eyes don't work; the "storm" is the danger that awaits any unusual couple who stops for gas or a burger; & an actual desert storm is building toward the climax.
That seems hardly worth drawing attention to. The real strength of the film, making it a fairly amazing thriller, is its unusual population (especially Marvin). The cast is almost perfect; only Lara Flynn Doyle might've been played by someone more interesting, & even she in the main rises to role.
The fact is, Eye of the Storm's success hinge doesn't rest only on its exploitation content. Rather, the real anguish of the piece is in its revelations of sundry sorts of emotional desparations.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl