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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.6%
Worth A Look56.98%
Average: 18.6%
Pretty Bad: 4.65%
Total Crap: 1.16%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Eye, The
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by Mel Valentin

"Flawed, recommended only with reservations."
3 stars

Although "The Eye," co-written and directed by Oxide and Danny Pang ("Bangkok Dangerous"), isn't without its positives, from the fluid camerawork and cinematography, to the plentiful jump scares and shock cuts, to a sympathetic protagonist, it falters badly when the Pang Brothers shift from a small, intimate drama to a Hollywood-by-way-of-Hong Kong disaster movie in the last act.

In The Eye, a young woman, Mun (Angelica Lee, also billed as Lee Sin-je), blinded at a young age, receives corneal transplants to restore her sight. After the operation, however, she discovers she's also been gifted with "second sight," the ability to see ghosts, ghosts that have died violently. This second sight, however, is less gift than curse. While she recovers from her eye surgery and her normal sight gradually returns, she becomes haunted by hallucinations or ghosts (the movie doesn't keep us guessing for long). Her nighttime visions include a shadow figure, a ferryman for the newly dead.

The visions of the dead, however, turn into visions and dreams of a past life, the eyes' original owner. These new visions come to her through subliminal flashes, which increase in frequency and depth. Mun is essentially reliving a past life. Later, she discovers that the ghosts she keeps seeing are, in fact, suicides doomed to endlessly repeat their violent deaths unless they obtain assistance from the living (Anthony Wong makes a brief appearance as a local exorcist). From there, the protagonist must unravel the mystery behind the eye donor's death.

The Eye has several minor (and one major) shortcomings. First, The Eye introduces the blind protagonist via superfluous voice over narration and sentimental piano music. Second, the male lead is far too young, and his romantic relationship with Mun is woefully perfunctory and underwritten. Third. The Eye is over-dependent on music cues for shock effects. Fourth, and most importantly, the Pang Brothers employ a bait-and-switch narrative strategy, i.e., a false climax followed by actual third-act climax that takes The Eye from a minimalist, miniaturist approach, adds a deus ex machina, and switches focus from a personal epiphany to a conventional crescendo of explosions and effects typical of a big-budget Hollywood disaster film.

With the film's central conflict resolved by the "false" or penultimate climax, there was nowhere else for the narrative to go. The audience should have arrived at the "real" third-act climax through complications, reversals, and a series of graduated crescendos. The Pang Brothers should have structured the narrative to build from crescendo to crescendo, increasing the physical and emotional risk to the characters, sharpening the dilemma and conflict (or altering them significantly), and creating a strong, causal link between the events depicted in the film.

The Eye has multiple positives, however, including the opening credit sequence, Braille writing, a series of bumps on a canvas, transformed into words, while hands move behind a white screen or wall; Mun's blurred world coming into gradual focus; Mun's first experience with mirrors and seeing herself is handled delicately; Mun's first experience with a ghost, inside the hospital under fluorescent lights (green/blue hues) using a 360 degree pan, slow-motion and a shock cut; Mun's attempts to reintegrate herself into her former life; the calligraphy sessions with Mun learning to write, which provide the audience with the first real jump scare; and, of course, the series of ghosts, some gruesome, some deserving of pity, all inventively imagined by the Pang Brothers and their effects team.

Overall, however, the strengths manage to outweigh the misguided resolution of the main plotline. "The Eye" deserves a positive recommendation, with reservations (an American remake is rumored to be in the works). The next Pang Brothers' effort will be one to watch.

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originally posted: 05/29/05 04:09:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Santa Monica Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Santa Monica Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell not fresh but still scary worth a look 4 stars
10/27/09 bored mom Cellular memory? More like Legend of the Cursed Eyeballs. 3 stars
10/24/09 SouthWind45 Legacy and, worse, insists suggest that Brazilian professionals are solely responsible for 2 stars
10/23/09 Gangster38 The schools I went to were out of control. , 5 stars
5/29/07 Bitchflaps Doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but there are some effective moments. 3 stars
11/01/06 William Goss Familiar, yet still solid. 4 stars
10/02/05 ravinder singh i like this movei 5 stars
9/02/05 Indrid Cold A couple perfectly done scenes, but doesn't even come close to sustaining it. 3 stars
8/11/05 Maegs Creepy! Elevator man still scares the crap out of me. 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Japanese Val Lewton makes visual gem out coal (story). 4 stars
7/20/05 Sir Dude Very good. Hurry and see it before Hollywood ruins a great movie... Again! 5 stars
6/23/05 M a bit silly, but skin crawling. beautifully shot. 4 stars
6/11/05 whatevr as creepy as the sixth sense 5 stars
6/09/05 The Grinch Don't believe the hype. The lamest of all overrated asian "horror". Watch Odishan instead 2 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Great production values! 4 stars
5/07/05 K. Sear Nothing new but beautifully executed. 4 stars
1/13/05 SAKURAZUKAMORI Very effective, creepy movie. 5 stars
1/01/05 Raven Great drama with some horror elements. Ju-on sucked, watch this instead. It has a plot. 4 stars
10/19/04 Samantha It's a great film, I love the way it was done! 5 stars
5/29/04 Cameron Slick Thought concerned and eerie 4 stars
5/18/04 taintedlunch Creepy! Look out for elevator scene. Derivative and predictable at times, but good movie. 5 stars
5/15/04 shannon saliard excelltnt film it had me on the edge of my seat from first shot to last. 5 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy Well done, owes Sixth Sense a lot, but doesn't ultimately pay off. 3 stars
4/18/04 JERRY ahh cuz i wet meself! 5 stars
2/08/04 matt mathias's all in the sound...turn it up loud!! 5 stars
1/21/04 Mayet quite better than inner senses... but nothing beats ring 4 stars
11/08/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Predictable at some points, but it's pretty scary. My 1st Pang Bros. outing. 4 stars
10/29/03 othree feltfull understated ghost story w/o the hollywood racket 4 stars
10/25/03 Mickey With A C This is an EXCELLENT movie 5 stars
10/05/03 john holdsworth top film better than usual U.S. crap 5 stars
9/14/03 the Grinch Don't believe the hype. Weak, cliched movie. Watch Audition instead... 2 stars
7/01/03 Kyle Worth checking out. 4 stars
6/24/03 Eastwood Honestly, I've never been genuinely scared like that. Leveled off nicely at the end. 4 stars
6/10/03 hugh frightening 5 stars
6/06/03 chris Plays it safe, but some scenes make the overall film worthwhile 4 stars
5/31/03 Meyeson I've had this on DVD for about 8 months, this is not "SCREAM" style horror it's "SUSPIRIA 4 stars
5/23/03 Jonathan Not Evil, but Bizzare-scary. A good story and cast but a little predictable at times. 4 stars
5/19/03 Loyd This movie has been copied from a book. I read the book 3 years ago. 1 stars
5/16/03 joe biedron very scary stuff 4 stars
3/20/03 Andy Bronson a great follow up to bangkok dangerous 5 stars
3/18/03 Ace-of-Stars Outstanding movie; very creepy -- right up there with Nakata's "RING" (orig. Japanese ver.) 5 stars
3/13/03 Jon Saw the east coast version 6 months ago, great with a very cool ending 4 stars
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  06-Jun-2003 (R)
  DVD: 21-Oct-2003


  03-Jun-2004 (MA)

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