Donald Cammell’s art house horror White of the Eye is most definitely a cult curio. Blending a slasher movie murder mystery story line with a disjointed narrative, stylized sequences and dreamlike imagery, it’s an eye catching piece of cinema.
The plot follows the investigation into a psychotic killer who is horrifically murdering wealthy housewives throughout Arizona, breaking into their palatial homes and arranging their butchered bodies like blood splattered pieces of modern art.
Having evaded capture so far, the terrifying slayings have started up in Tucson where the police finally have a solid lead which takes them to the door of hi-fi installer Paul White (David Keith) who becomes their prime suspect.
Determined to prove his innocence to the police and his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) Paul endeavors to explain his whereabouts revealing that he has been having an affair with another woman.
Distressed, distraught and desperate to deal with the effects of the fall out on her life and daughter, Joan begins to revisit in her mind the couple’s first meeting many years ago. But when she comes face to face with a figure from her past it sends her down a road that leads to a shocking revelation about her present situation.
Filled with abstract shots, blue tinted flashbacks, scenes of nature and industry and a native American mysticism that is never fully expanded on parts of White of the Eye blend the slick stylisation of Michael Mann’s magnificent Manhunter with the otherworldly spiritualism of Nicolas Roeg’s horrors and the beautiful brutality of Argento’s Giallo’s.
This is all down to visionary director Donald Cammell who also adapted the film with his wife from the 1983 novel Mrs. White written by Margaret Tracy the pseudonym for Laurence and Andrew Klavan.
In his hands he transforms what would have been a pretty standard slasher into something else entirely, an easy feat for the man behind the disturbing Demon Seed and the psychedelic psychological thriller that is Performance.
This said White of the Eye is not without its faults and true horror fans might find it a bit lacking in the thrills and scares department. The movie also drags somewhat towards the end as what begins as a mental chaotic cat and mouse climax is extended too far causing it to lose its impact and the audience’s attention.
White of the Eye’s popularity and power is truly in the eye of the beholder and ultimately there will be those who love it and others who simply don’t get it at all. However, if you are a fan of more experimental horror and cult oddities then this is the film for you.