Not every movie about a small group of people stuck in a single room can be as good as “12 Angry Men,” but just about any low-budget filmmaker could learn something from that movie about how to block actors and build a story. Director Robbie Bryan and screenwriter Robert T. Roe’s “The Eyes” is a talky, set-bound drama masquerading as a suspense picture, and nearly the entire movie consists of overwritten, overacted, visually inert confrontations and monologues.
Megan West stars as Jaclyn, a feisty lawyer who gets kidnapped and awakens in a featureless bunker alongside a group of strangers. A voice from above (provided by Nicholas Turturro) explains that a covert government organization has determined they are all criminals who deserved to be executed, but one will be spared if they can come to a unanimous decision about who deserves mercy.
Aside from brief flashbacks, nearly all of “The Eyes” takes place in one room, where the captives (played by an accomplished cast that includes Danny Flaherty from “The Americans” and Vincent Pastore from “The Sopranos”) talk through their pasts while trying to avoid their worst sins for as long as possible.
Every now and then, Jaclyn points out that this whole set-up is preposterous, illegal and inefficient. But neither she nor anyone else pushes too hard because the point of this picture isn’t to make sense, it’s to deliver emotional speeches and jarring twists — including one big howler at the end — on a piddly budget.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Las Palmas, Hollywood