“He offered me homemade peanut-butter. What do you think that means?”
A serial killer is murdering house-wives in a ritualistic fashion across an arid southern city. The top suspect is David Keith’s Paul, a hi-fi stereo installation man who is known for letting the soundscape of a room echo through his head.
White of the Eye quickly pushes aside its serial killer mystery for a blown out, surreal character study of the enigmatic Paul, a man who seems to represent the corruption of American idealism. He’s described as once having dreams, of being the most intelligent man of his town – and now he makes his living selling sound equipment to bored housewives. This is a tale of consumerist possession. His wife, Joan (played by Cathy Moriarty), used to wear her clothes furred and her hair feathered, signifiers of a style long gone – and now she looks like every other woman on the block. The far out hippie spirituality of times past has been replaced with a new, darker kind. Paul is a spiritual man, but he enacts his ritual through the installation of stereos, letting the echoes blast through his skull, having a religious experience by embracing an empty system. And he brings in the old as well, pulling in aspects of Native American religion into his world, embracing a broken form paganistic yuppiedom.
It’s surreal and uncomfortable, lurid and philosophical, melodramatic and horrific – it’s a million things, many of which don’t seem to mesh on paper but come together to something magnificent on film.