White Of The Eye is one of the craziest films that I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. This serial killer thriller from maverick director Donald Cammell is a total mind-bender. It’s great. David Keith and Cathy Moriarty play a couple living an idyllic life, however their happiness is thrown into disarray when a series of murders hits a little too close to home. Meanwhile, flashbacks illustrate how the couple met, showing that their middle-class life isn’t as average it appears on the outside.
Cammell takes a pretty generic plot and rips it apart. White Of The Eye begins like a Michael Mann-ish type thriller (Manhunter springs to mind) but it then begins to take a of of wold turns. It’s clear that Cammell had no interest in making a standard movie – he subverts the genre, making a bizarre art movie under the guise of thriller. Cammell loads his movie with subplots and interesting character, but he never loses focus of the central story.
Visually, the movie is impressive and the score adds an extra layer to proceedings. White Of The Eye has a dream-like quality – it floats along and in many ways it feels like a precursor to Twin Peaks. Cammell’s film is reality based, but there’s something off-miler about it – things are one step removed from reality.
Donald Cammell delivers with White Of The Eye. He takes what could have been a pretty standard thriller and adds a flair of originality. As a director, he plays with expectations, creating a film that feels fresh despite its genre trappings.
White Of The Eye is a fascinating cult movie and Arrow has gone all out delivering a blu-ray package that I can’t praise enough. The film comes with a David cammell short film, deleted scenes, interviews and raw footage which shows how the bleach bypass sequences were created. However, the stand-out feature is a 1999 documentary on the late Cammell. It shows how he went from artist to maverick filmmaker. It details how he fought against studios and producers in an attempt to create movies on his own terms. It’s a fascinating piece that’s well worth your time. It will make you re-evaluate the move and make you want to go out and pick-up Cammell’s back catalogue (which includes Performance and Demon Seed). If only all movies were presented in such a glorious way. Stunning.