Five young people have been brought to a mansion in the woods for a live webcast - all they have to do is live with each other for a few months and they will win one million dollars - but no one is allowed to leave, and everyone must be inside before curfew at night. As they get nearer their goal, the contestants grow more paranoid, especially as the Company running the show are playing mind games with them...
This combination of the old dark house mystery and slasher movie breathes new life into those hardy genres with the introduction of new-fangled technology. Written by David Hilton and James Watkins, the action takes place in a snowbound setting surrounded by cameras to record each contestant's every move, and this is the point of view we get, of a subscriber watching over the internet.
Filmed on digital video, My Little Eye uses various tricks for that authentic look, like infra-red photgraphy for scenes shot in darkness, or even cameras set in pens and torches to underline the fact that nowhere can the broadcast be escaped. The soundtrack has a variety of electronic noises for added atmosphere: the film even starts with the sound of a computer going online.
The drama takes the idea of reality TV to an extreme, wondering where you could possibly go to sastisfy the crueller side of human curiosity. We are given hints of what is to come: one character tells us that people who don't close their curtains are most likely to get stalkers, then follows that up by saying you're more likely to be murdered by someone you know. What sounds like an intruder in the house turns out to be a trapped crow.
As the tension mounts, we wonder whether the psychological tricks being played (a bloody hammer left in one girl's bed, a letter informing one contestant of a bereavement) are the work of the Company, or whether there really is someone out there who has been watching it all and has decided to join in with a sick game of their own. All the while, the five feel increasingly exposed and increasingly isolated.
Perhaps My Little Eye is too mean-spirited to be wholly enjoyable, but there's a great twist, and the actors set the right mood of not being completely sympathetic so that we start to judge them as we would the contestants on a genuine reality TV show. And it doesn't cop out at the end, pondering on how much reality people would need to see before they're totally satisfied - and I don't mean making cups of tea. Music by Bias.
British director of downbeat films: low budget House of America was followed by the controversial Resurrection Man. My Little Eye was an inventive variation on the slasher genre and Trauma an exercise in psychological horror. After these was Snow Cake, a sensitive drama concerning autism.