The Eye (2002) / Fantasy-Horror
aka Jian Gui
aka Gin Gwai

MPAA Rated: R for some disturbing images (I'd rate it PG-13. It's certainly no more disturbing than The Ring)
Running Time: 99 min.

Cast: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Edmund Chen, Yut Lai So, Yin Ping Ko
Director: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang
Screenplay: Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui, Oxide Pang, Danny Pang
Review published March 22, 2003

I can't quite give credit to the Pang Brothers for originality, but I can definitely give it to them for taking the many borrowed ideas and making them seem very fresh again.  The Eye is a mish-mash of many films you have seen before.  Jacob's Ladder, The Sixth Sense, At First Sight, and Ghost come to mind among popular Hollywood releases.  Even in Asian cinema in the year of The Eye's release, there were two other films about the ability to see the dead, the more horrific Inner Senses and the comedy, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, although I can't really say for sure which of these came first, or if any of them influenced each other.  Even if The Eye constantly makes you have the feeling of deja vu, it's still quite a riveting work, and definitely succeeds in locking you into the chills and suspense with flair.

Angelica Lee plays Mun, a blind girl who undergoes a cornea transplant that will results in her being able to see.  However, she doesn't quite see like the rest of us, as she is haunted by visions of other people, dead people, some of which aren't the kind you want saying hello in a dark corridor.  With the help of her psychoanalyst, Mun tries to unlock the mystery of her visions, and hopes she can put an end to the disturbing images before it drives her mad.

The Pang Brothers do a fine job building up their story, making Mun sympathetic, and making us care about her early on enough to be a bit uneasy whenever her life is perceived to be in danger.  Like The Sixth Sense, the build-up is slow and quiet, raising hairs more on atmosphere and things left unseen rather than with the typical thumps and bumps.  It doesn't always make sense, as it's somewhat unclear (at least to me) how the new eyes now allow her to hear the ghosts she couldn't before the transplant, or how only one of the eyes seems to hold the key to the visions (I'd elaborate more, but this would necessitate a major spoiler.)  If there is one thing the that would have made the film much better, it would be in the cinematography department, as The Eye isn't really a pretty picture, full of murky lighting and a lack of good scenery.

Regardless, it's quality horror-fantasy that entertains despite the logic holes and derivativeness of the main story, with a superb performance by Lee.  For those who like the new thinking-man's breed of horror films, full of atmospheric chills and psychological goosebumps, The Eye should arrest your attention for the duration.

-- Followed by The Eye 2 (2004), The Eye 10 (2005), and The Eye 3 (2008).  Remade in 2005 in India as Naina and in America in 2008 as The Eye.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo