Paco Plaza isn’t just a great filmmaker, he’s also a very versatile man behind the camera: he’s responsible for what I consider to be the best found-footage horror movies of all time ([Rec] 1 & 2), as well as a great possession film that distinctly stands out within the sub-genre, Veronica (2018).
I’m always excited when a new film directed by him comes out, which is why I added Eye for an Eye on my most anticipated horror movies of 2020 list. The movie, which just came out on Netflix, stars the extremely talented Luis Tosar, an actor some of you might know for his portrayal of Cesar in the chilling thriller Bed Times (2011). In addition, Eye for an Eye was co-written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría (The Day of the Beast, 1996), probably the best Spanish screenwriter working today.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Eye for an Eye – plot and morals
In Eye for an Eye, we see old drug lord Antonio Padin being taken into a caring home, where nurs Mario (Luis Tosar) has the duty to take care of him. Mario, who’s known among colleagues and friends as a loving and caring nurse, seems to develop an obsession with the old boss, which might be caused by a traumatic event in Mario’s past: this leads to our main character coming up with a vengeful plan against Antonio. Even though the drug lord is old and seemingly defenceless, his two sons (Tono and Kike) are very violent and dangerous people: while Mario and Antonio’s storyline is being developed, the movie also follows the two sons as they try to make a big drug deal with the Chinese mafia. Eventually, the two storylines come together in a way where no one is safe.
Dense in plot elements and full of twists and turns, Eye for an Eye is both an in-depth character study of the protagonists and a story about the consequences of revenge. Presented as a dark drama-thriller, this Spanish picture is truly uncomfortable and scary to watch from beginning to end, due to the grey area all the characters find themselves into. The movie doesn’t ask you to pick a side, instead it demands an effort from the viewer to understand what every character is going through: there are no innocent people in Eye for an Eye, but even the most despicable characters have redeeming qualities to them. In other words, you sympathise with the protagonists but, simultaneously, you loath every single one of them due to the heinous actions they commit.
A truly uncomfortable movie to watch
In fact, Eye for an Eye is a very uncomfortable watch due to both very intense scenes – with some unexpected gore – and questionable morality connected to every character. Both of these elements come from the immense talent of the writers, who were able to create a very dark story that will likely keep you on the edge of your seat from the first to the very last minute. Those viewers who value unpredictability very high would definitely have a great time watching this film, since it’s quite full of twists, turns and unexpected revelations. Most importantly, the script was written in a very coherent way, which causes every twist in the film to fully make sense and to feel shocking and unexpected at the same time. The way the two storylines intertwine with each other is, also, impressively well-written and seamless: there is no major element in Eye for an Eye that feels out of place or incidental, no moment where you’re taken out of the experience due to questionable character choice.
These characters, which are very multi-layered and interesting, as I said before, are very uncomfortable to follow as well. With them being depicted as very flawed, it’s really hard to relate to them: yet, the movie purposely forces you to understand their motivations and to witness the vile actions they commit. The other big reason why this works is the fantastic performances by most of the actors: Luis Tosar is amazing as always, with his unique ability to hide darkness between the every-day-man’s appearance; the Padin’s family members (the boss and his sons) are also very well-played: they are the “villains”, yet you can’t help feeling for them when things get tough.
Directing and presentation
Obviously, the actors’ talent is enhanced by Paco Plaza’s directions, as he is tremendous at working with actors. Yet, he developed a very peculiar style for Eye for an Eye, a style that certainly helps setting the movie apart from the average dark thriller flick. However, the presentation is, unfortunately, the least effective aspect of this film.
Even though production values and cinematography are very competent, camera-work and editing often feel cheesy and overdramatic. In so many instances, the director chose to rely on quick montages (which feel already dated) and violent zooms that, instead of making scenes more dramatic, they make them look exaggerated and a tad comical. Aside from these serious presentation issues, my other complaints with Eye for an Eye revolve around minor mistakes, such as small continuity errors and some ineffective line delivery.
It’s a shame the presentation of Eye for an Eye isn’t on par with the script nor on the same level of previous Paco Plaza movies, because it prevents this film from being truly fantastic. Nonetheless, Eye for an Eye is a very solid, effective, intense and powerful dark thriller that I would recommend everyone to watch – as long as you like dour and bleak movies. The ending to the film is perfect, not just because of how it’s made, but also due to the metaphorical significance it holds. I loved Eye for an Eye and, despite some serious flaws, I can’t wait to watch it again!
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