Preview by: Jack Foley
GORAN Visjnic was hailed as the next George Clooney when he took
on a prominent role in ER, but while he has certainly melted hearts
in the emergency room, he has yet to make it big in cinemas.
Part of this is down to personal choice, as the actor likes to
make use of his spare time with trips to his homeland, as well
as smaller ensemble pieces, such as the acclaimed, The
His latest excursion on the big screen, an independent gothic
horror, is earning similarly impressive reviews from some American
critics, and looks set to further his growing reputation as a
character actor to watch.
Close Your Eyes features Visjnic as hypnotherapist, Doctor Michael
Strother, who has a dangerous gift: he has flashes of visions
from his patients' minds.
While trying to help Detective Janet Losey give up smoking, he
sees in her mind a young girl floating below the surface of a
Losey is working on a case where a young girl, Heather, has disappeared.
When she is found several days later, she has been struck dumb
by whatever trauma she has endured. The only clue could lie in
the mysterious markings on her arms.
Orthodox police investigation has failed so far, and so Losey
enlists Michael's help, hoping that he can coax the girl to speak.
The ensuing investigation has wide-reaching implications for both
of them, as well as Strothers family, and unlocks secrets
from the past.
The film is produced by Michele Camarda, who found the casting
of Visjnic to be an irresistible choice.
"We were looking for an actor with the weight to carry the
white knuckle ride that the character undertakes, and we needed
someone with international appeal," she explained. "When
we met with Goran Visnjic we were immediately struck by him.
"He is a talented actor and known internationally for his
role in medical drama ER, which gets big ratings throughout the
world. We made the decision to wait for him and film during his
hiatus from ER."
Visnjic, himself, describes his character as a talented
hypnotist who left America because he committed a professional
error of judgement he convinced a patient he was invincible,
not realising that the suggestion was so powerful the guy would
ignore his own physical limitations, and kill himself attempting
"So he has moved his family to London, where he is working
at a much more low key level helping smokers to give up
their addiction. He feels frustrated, but when a policewoman asks
him to help with the little girl who has been abducted he is reluctant
to help in case he messes up again.
"But as he digs deeper into the girl's mind, he sees things
no one else can, and his insomnia returns. His supernatural powers
give him flashes of unpleasant insights, and he knows he is the
only one who can help."
Visnjic says that people should not dismiss the possibility of
supernatural events. He added: "I would be happy to discover
evidence of life after death, and I like the idea of reincarnation.
It means that we all have a chance to improve ourselves.
"If everyone in the world believed in reincarnation then
we would all try harder and the world would be a better place."
US critics were mostly positive about the film when it opened
in selected cinemas on April 23, 2004.
Newsday, for example, wrote that it's nowhere near
innovative, but it scares you as you rarely get scared in movies
While Variety referred to it as an enjoyable throwback
to the occult psychological horror-thrillers of the late 1970s.
The New York Post, meanwhile, stated that if you
can overlook its TV-episode look, occasional lapses in logic and
detours into lurid overkill, this old-school psychological thriller,
which marries a tracking-the- serial-killer narrative with occult
themes, is a creepy diversion.
And Film Journal International concluded that it
wont blow anyone away, but its a solid popcorn picture,
featuring two very watchable leads.
There were bad reviews, however, with Entertainment Weekly
describing it as a cheaply made piece of 'psychological'
And the New York Daily News opining that it may
be the worst-directed movie exported by England in this young
But E! Online noted that it's fun schlock, but it's
only schlock, in spite of its indie-film distribution to art-house
And the New York Times concluded: "Hypnosis in the
movies has always been synonymous with hocus pocus, and the tradition
continues in this flashy, mildly tingly British thriller."