The Eye (2002)
By: Markus Zussner on February 6, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eastern Eye (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Cantonese DD 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1. English Subtitles. 94 minutes
The Movie
Director: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang
Starring: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Yut Lai So, Candy Lo
Screenplay: Jojo Hui, Pang Brothers
Music: Orange
Country: Hong Kong
AKA: Gin Gwai
Creators Danny and Oxide Pang, two Brothers from Hong Kong of Bangkok Dangerous fame, changed direction from the action genre and headed down the dark path of horror to write and direct their first fright film The Eye.

The Eye is essentially a supernatural ghost tale about a woman named Min (Lee sin-Je) who undergoes a revolutionary eye transplant procedure which finally gives her the gift of sight after a lifetime of blindness. What follows is an unnerving journey into the supernatural where the boundaries of reality and the otherworld merge, creating unclear borders between what is real and what is not.

At first Min is preoccupied with assimilating to her newfound gift of sight. She has not yet realised that her eyes are now capable of much, much more. Min must get used to seeing for the very first time and to be able to trust and interpret what her new eyes show and also how her mind will interpret the visual input. When Min sees a group of figures standing in a room, all of these figures are part of the real world except one and Min is none the wiser. To the viewer though, it is clear that one of these entities is in fact a ghost. It takes some time for Min to fully comprehend what is happening to her though sinceshe had previously identified people and objects through the senses of touch and sound. Min has no visual vocabulary so she has to build this up from nothing and this is symbolised to great effect with the opening credit sequence converting from Braille to text. As Min gets more accustomed to her new gift of sight, her first encounters with the dead don't necessarily scare her; rather they confuse her like a hard math equation. This certainly provides viewers with rather a unique perspective on meeting a ghost. Even though Min's sight is fully restored her first supernatural encounters are a conundrum of sorts because she cannot differentiate between the dead and the living. To her they are both the same and it is this premise that makes up the body of the film.

Eventually Min begins to realise that all is not as it seems. Curiosity and confusion are soon replaced by fear, and as Min's experiences escalate and become more intrusive she seeks the aid of her appointed counsellor (Lawrence Chou). The counsellor first believes that Min may merely be suffering the psychological side effects of her eye transplant and suspects that these will diminish over time, however as events unfold the good doctor is eventually convinced that something more is going on. This leads them both to the inevitable conclusion that if they are going to find any answers they will need to uncover the identity and history of the eye donor…

This movie exploded out from the recent Japanese/Asian Horror renaissance and stands proud on it's own alongside such classics as The Ring, Dark Water, and The Grudge. The script, written by Jo Jo Hui and The Pang Brothers, is tight and slick, translating easily into (subtitled) English. Even though The Eye runs at a steady pace throughout, the story is so intriguing and intense it will keep all eyes glued to the screen (or on the subtitles). The acting is superb and you don't need to speak Cantonese or Mandarin to realise this.

The Pang Brothers use their own creative devices to unsettle the viewer, and it is refreshing to see that they are trying to influence rather than be influenced. Granted there can be comparisons made between The Eye and other movies like The Sixth Sense, but it is damn near impossible to come up with a totally original idea these days. There are plenty of scares and they work best in the gloomy hospital interiors, packing a really decent punch which is guaranteed to have viewers jumping out of their seats. The ending is literally explosive, intertwining its 'Disaster Movie' type ending successfully with the horror element of the story.
The 16:9 enhacned 1.85:1 transfer is superb. Colours are muted with grey and green coming out as the primary colours but this is done for effect, giving this movie a 'detached from reality' kind of feel. Night scenes are clear with no grain that you would sometimes get from much older productions.
Audio quality is excellent, especially the DTS. There are lots of creepy ambient audio effects that really sound awesome. The ghosts don't move around silently, that's for sure. The sound people have put a lot of effort into creating genuinely creepy sounds and they come out at you from all directions with great depth and clarity. The subwoofer comes to life like a healthy humming generator, and there is no audio hiss or hum so turn it up loud. Headphone junkies, this one's definitely for you.
Extra Features
Two Featurettes: Making of The Eye (8 minutes) and Directors Spotlight: The Pang Brothers (7 Minutes). Although both featurettes are quite short (guess that's why they call them Featurettes) they are nonetheless very interesting to watch. Making of The Eye goes into the nuts and bolts of making this film and features interviews with the Cast and The Pang's as well as others involved in the movie. Directors Spotlight provides a rare insight into the careers of Danny and Oxide Pang and they reflect on the experiences of their earlier feature Bangkok Dangerous. It would be great if the features were longer, but I am not an advocate of length at the expense of quality. We just want the gold, not the whole mountain.

Eastern Eye Trailers: EE Promo Trailer, The Grudge, Dark Water, Ong Bak.

Madman Trailers: Paranoia Agent, Parasite Dolls, Texhnolyze.
The Verdict
The Pang's have done their best to inject their creative talents into The Eye to provide a unique and refreshing slant on the ghost story, and they have succeeded. At the end of the day when all is said and done, The Eye delivers on many levels, and what more can you really ask for?
Movie Score
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