The movie has simple set-up. 5 teenage girls are lost on Tennessee backroads after a football game. They get in a minor fender bender and flee the scene. The girls spend the rest of the film being marauded by the other motorist.
Five Across the Eyes has a reported budget of $4000. Even at triple that it's still an accomplished piece of work (was that really a compliment???). Here's a checklist of what I was and wasn't impressed by...
It's like a first person without a camera or cameraperson that has to be accounted for and explained logically. Which I guess makes it more of a second person or maybe a first Personnne film in some ways.
Almost all of the action is viewed or takes place inside the cabin of an SUV. This combined with the personal perspective traps the viewer directly under the only light source in the dark, remote universe of the murderer.
The intensity is ample. The harassment and butchery are well conceived and the brutality believable and harrowing.
The single headlight vehicle is a menacing and visceral scare device.
If you are one of those who needs a flawless verite experience, just don't rent it. You'll spend your time harping on things that the filmmakers probably just had to accept as part of the compromise in making a no budget film.
The acting is spotty at best. The problem is, there is too much time to fill for the talent they cast to fill it. If you don't believe The Blair Witch cast was truly incredible watch this back to back with it.
The music, it's difficult to tell whether the music is inappropriate to much of the film or if it is just grossly overused.
The editing and camerawork is intentionally done in a jump and jar fashion. Very effective for the most part but it does fluctuate between disorienting (good) and confusing (bad) and that can pull the viewer out at times.
Overall, I would have liked to see "Five Across the Eyes" come in at the 45-60 minute mark. I know that's no man's land for distribution purposes, but it would have allowed the editor to fix some corrosive performance issues and really keep a tight reign on the intensity.