Four strangers – Marcus (Jackson Bews), Abbi (Alanna Flynn), James (Nick Blakeley) and Ron (Gerard Mcdermott) – move into an apartment as part of a televised Big Brother-style reality TV show. All four have agreed to take part in the series, keeping their involvement secret from their friends and family. When they arrive things unfold as they expect but the departure of one contestant leads them to realise that they may be involved in something very different than what they thought.
Eyes and Prize attempts to shine a new light on the reality TV genre by exploring the dangers and darker side of shows such as Big Brother. Initially intriguing, the four contestants arrive to a very budget apartment where they have the basics they need to survive. Their excitement quickly subsides when one of the four abruptly leaves, something the other three think is the first twist on the show. After that point the three remaining characters take different journeys as one unravels, one becomes paranoid and the other maintains that it’s all part of the larger game.
The first issue with Eyes and Prize is that it takes far too long to get going and then once it does, nothing really happens. If you’re looking for a full explanation by the time the credits roll, you’re going to be very disappointed. Film-maker Oliver Cane doesn’t seem all that interested in the whys and hows, opting to try and unsettle you instead. That works to an extent but it leaves you feeling unfulfilled, especially after you’ve spent 90 minutes with these characters.
There have been a number of films and TV shows exploring the reality TV genre and unfortunately Eyes and Prize doesn’t have anything new to offer. I’ve seen this type of story done much better many times before and because of that, the gut punch the film thinks it’s offering you falls completely flat. I waited for the tension to increase or a clever twist to arrive but alas it never did.
One thing that can’t be faulted is the performances. The four relative unknowns do good jobs with their characters, Jackson Bews in particular impressing as Marcus. None of them is really given enough material to sink their teeth into and they all struggle to make you care about what happens to them.
Eyes and Prize had the potential to be a good film but it sadly never rises above mediocre. The lack of depth in the story combined with the disappointing climax, made me feel how I often do when I’ve watched Big Brother: annoyed that I’ve wasted my time. There’s a good idea in here somewhere but it gets lost in a bid to be much cleverer than the film manages.
Cast: Jackson Bews, Alanna Flynn, Nick Blakeley, Gerard Mcdermott Director: Oliver Cane Writer: Oliver Cane Certificate: Unrated Duration: 91 mins Released by: Random Media Release date: 14th May 2019 Buy Eyes and Prize