With another potential Hollywood strike looming (the SAG contract has expired and the actors have yet to reach acceptable terms with the studios), it’s possible that reality television will see a revival in the coming year. Personally, I think that reality television has run its course, and we’ll see fewer and fewer non-scripted dramas appearing on network television. And honestly, it couldn’t make me happier.

I remember enjoying the first season of The Real World, which took place in New York City while I was still in high school. I found most of the contestants sympathetic enough, but I think that (aside from the background soundtrack, which was phenomenal) the genuine appeal in the show lay in the fact that their lives in the city were so vastly different from my mundane suburban existence. As I grew older, and my own life experiences became more similar to those of the contestants on the show, it began to be less and less interesting to me. It seemed like a waste of time to watch other people engage in relatively ordinary activities, like rollerblading around Miami, when I could just as easily get stoned and rollerblade around Claremont myself.

The Film: My Little Eye

The Song: “Desolation Highway”

The Artist: Bikini Atoll

Elimination-based reality shows like Big Brother and Survivor are often defended by their proponents as an entertaining exercise in the psychology of group dynamics. Though I don’t watch the show, I can understand how the controlled survival struggle of Survivor would be interesting. I could never understand, however, what on earth made Big Brother into a smash hit in most of the locations where it was produced overseas. With shows like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, at least there was the guilty pleasure of feeling superior to the meatheads and bimbos that populated these tropical paradises. It was fun to watch them embarrass themselves as they furrowed their brows and attempted to “outsmart” each other in between clumsy seduction attempts, but with Big Brother it’s just a bunch of shallow idiots sitting around a house, bored to tears. I always thought that Harvey Danger was onto something when they penned the line “if you’re bored then you’re boring,” and nothing epitomizes this better than the housemates of Big Brother, whose interactions with each other are supposedly enhanced through a broad form of sensory deprivation, as their access to television, books, and any sort of creative outlet is entirely eliminated.

My Little Eye (2002) was a British horror film that was released during what was the apex of Big Brother’s popularity and relied heavily on a few of the conventions of the show, including the lure of prize money, total isolation of the contestants, and the use of night-vision cameras to capture activity that takes place in the dark. The film was shot in a large house in Nova Scotia, and the cast consisted of actors that were (and still are) relatively unknown. The only familiar faces were Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers) and Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525).

While the idea of seeing the inhabitants of a Big Brother household slaughtered by an axe-wielding psycho certainly has its appeal, My Little Eye is more of a suspense thriller than a slasher film. It was a pretty forgettable movie, attempting but generally failing to instill a sense of tension regarding the fate of its unsympathetic characters. What I did enjoy about the movie, however, was the utter heartlessness of its ending. Combined with the lonely strains of Bikini Atoll’s “Desolation Highway,” the clips of the original auditions that began the film function as a sort of memorial to the characters who were murdered by the fictional show’s producers.

Desolation Highway” is one of only four songs used in the film (which includes an unlikely inclusion of “Fuck the Pain Away” by the self-proclaimed sex object Peaches). The use of scored music in the film is limited as well, as the director Marc Evans attempts to replicate the successful use of extended silences that was the hallmark of The Blair Witch Project (1999). Evans also borrows from the Wachowski Brothers’ (um…siblings?) film The Matrix (1999) in the use of the cryptographic text as a background, which is actually a nice touch.

Led by the pair of German-born siblings Viva and Gideon Siefert, Bikini Atoll was a relatively short-lived band whose name was inspired by the site of the first hydrogen bomb test in 1952. You’d think that a song called “Desolation Highway” would have been inspired by the music of Bob Dylan, but if he’s an influence, it’s certainly not apparent in this particular piece of music. Regardless of the song’s true nature, though, it’s a nice piece of music and works brilliantly as it is used in the film

Thanks to Shane over at the Torture Garden for providing the mp3.