The Eye (2003)

Pop Cornea
Film review by: Witney Seibold

The Eye 2003
            “The Eye,” the new Hong Kong thriller from The Pang Brothers (Danny and Oxide), is the latest film in Asia’s horror/thriller revival that started with the success of Japan’s “Ringu” (and its sequel, and prequel, and American remake) in 1998. In this revival, from what I have observed, the films’ fulcrums are less violence and grotesquerie and giddy sickening thrill, and more striking images and a colder spooky feeling of dread; they’re the only films in which the ghosts move slowly. But “The Eye,” while highly stylized, and having some genuinely frightening moments, still only accomplishes what most films do that are unashamedly riding a wave of a previous film’s popularity: imitates, invited comparison, and ultimately just cashes in.
            After one smashing opening sequence (which I’d rather not spoil), we meet Mun (Lee Sin-je), a young blind woman who has just received a cornea transplant. Along with her new sense of sight, comes the unexpected ability to see ghosts. Some ghosts are benign, and are taken away by a death-like shadow figure, but other ghosts, the victims of suicide, stick around. Mun, with the help of her shrink and budding love-interest Dr. Lo (Edmund Chen), travels to Thailand to seek her eyeballs’ donor, and the secret of why she can see ghosts, and how she can stop it.
            It’s an old but interesting idea, and it’s done with skill by The Pangs. The sound effects are deep and hollow and menacing. There are scenes that are utterly frightening, as when Mun has to unwittingly share an elevator with a ghost, or when a dead calligraphy student wonders why Mun is in her chair. These “startle” moments are rarely done better. But as the film progresses, and the plot thickens, “The Eye” becomes lazy. It starts to drag. There’s a whole subplot involving Mun’s blind violin troupe, which tries to offer up some Emotional Music Scenes, but since the music is rather obviously done with a computer, it turns the scenes into a vestigial distraction.
When we finally get to the film’s climax, and we learn the truth of Mun’s eyes, we’ve been kind of inured to the frights, and it seems a little less interesting that it should be.

Published in: on June 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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