Pop culture medications on voyeurism

In light of the release of Home Movie (2008) and Cruel but Necessary (2005) , I've also uploaded reviews of My Little Eye (2002) and Alone with her (2004), two very different attempts to use video technology to create drama and a bit of pop culture commentary on our interest in what lies beneath the doors and covers of peoples' private lives.

Alone with Her is among the most interesting attempts to seriously show the ugliness of stalkers, and the clinical nature of digital stalking - its ease and utter naked exposure of a person - within a pretty solid dramatic framework. The finale in most thrillers about obsessive loons tends to tip towards some physical confrontation - Fatal Attraction being the most dynamic in a pre-digital era - but that's not always a negative, and director Eric Nicholas' film debut will probably age very well for being more social commentary than a thrill ride.

My Little Eye was made in the wake of Big Brother, that incredibly dumb and dull series wherein a bunch of attention-needy boneheads were locked in a house, and audiences could watch them be bored, sleazy, slimy, twitchy, and do socially relevant group projects like set up dominos or make blueberry pies. My Little Eye takes the show's basic template and gives it a vintage mystery thriller spin, which kind of works until the holes in the script weaken the last act, and a twist finale that's completely unsurprising.

When you make a thriller that can only be told by editing footage from fixed camera placements - spycams, webcams, or handycams - you've imposed a tough set of restrictions. Angles and visuals are limited, yet they can't be impractical nor filmic; and one has to show characters in a stylized natural way without being stylish, pretentious, or bore audiences with lame nattering.

Cruel but Necessary isn't a thriller, but it's also a story told with existing video gear that's literally turned on or off, and one could argue it's tougher to make that work within a thriller context because the goal isn't to make an Actor's Film or Character Piece, but a shocker with needed money shots. My Little Eye and Alone with Her kind of do it, and are worth checking out in spite of their respective flaws.



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