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Eye, The (2008)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Seen it all before."
3 stars

The world possibly needed another Hollywood remake of an Asian horror film.

And so we have The Eye, actually one of the better remakes (which isn’t saying much) but still not as chilling as its source, the Pang Brothers’ Gin Gwai (2002). That film had three classic scares: one in a hospital hallway, one during a calligraphy class, and one in an elevator. Howard Hawks said that a good movie has three great scenes and no bad scenes; I don’t remember any bad scenes in Gin Gwai, and the remake doesn’t really have any either, but it also doesn’t have any great scenes, despite copying its predecessor’s three great scenes. So: neither a good movie nor a bad movie, The Eye is just ... a movie, sitting there unnecessarily.

The hospital-hallway scene is a good example of the superiority of the Pangs’ style over that of David Moreau and Xavier Palud (the 2006 French thriller Them), who co-directed the remake. Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), blind since age five, has just had a cornea transplant. As she lies in bed recuperating, her sight still very blurry, she notices her elderly roommate wandering off with a shadowy figure. Sydney goes to investigate, and what follows is edited in the smash-and-grab manner of most horror these days (the venerable Outlaw Vern at AICN calls it “Avid farts”). The Pangs set it up slowly, ominously, without resorting to what looks like a fright wig. What scared us was the unearthly, moaning presence, in a well-lit hallway, of something that’s just barely visible. Moreau and Palud oversell the shock tactics here and in the other scenes.

Sydney keeps having nightmarish visions, and of course her jerky doctor (Alessandro Nivola) won’t believe her. Is her mind rejecting sight by dreaming up phantasms to scare her? Neither film really gets too deeply into that possibility; the horror is all too clearly supernatural. Here I must admit something: Effective as it is, Gin Gwai isn’t the epitome of originality, either. In both films, what’s behind the blurry curtain is that old standby, the Restless Ghost Who Has Something to Tell You. So you spend the movie watching the protagonist trying to figure out the Something that he or she is Being Told. Duplicating this premise, The Eye will come across to some younger viewers as a rehash of The Ring or The Grudge. It’s actually a rehash of Hamlet, and maybe farther back than that.

Alba is acceptable in the role; internet cranks like to badmouth her (probably because she keeps turning up in geek enterprises like Sin City and the Fantastic Four movies), but I never find her particularly bad, just amiably bland. She looks especially dull next to Parker Posey, as her neurotically worried sister who carries a heap of guilt over Sydney’s accidental blinding; Posey isn’t in her funky wheelhouse here, but she brings something specifically urban and quietly frazzled to her work. Then the movie brings in Rachel Ticotin and Tamlyn Tomita, too rarely seen in movies today, and too rarely seen in this one (I think Tomita gets one line). Alba is surrounded by idiosyncratic actresses — including Fernanda Romero as the face Sydney sees in the mirror — and she simply can’t compete. Picture The Eye with Parker Posey in the lead and you see the missed opportunities.

Those unfamiliar with Gin Gwai may criticize The Eye’s grand finale, which ups the ante to include exploding vehicles, but the earlier film concluded the same way. In the original, it felt too much as if the Pangs were using the climax as a calling card — “See, we can blow stuff up, too.” Maybe Moreau and Palud — the latest European horror directors to try their luck in Hollywood — intend it that way, too, but the sequence just walks in the Pangs’ footsteps.

The spookiest thing about "The Eye," which made respectable money on its opening weekend, is that there are two sequels to "Gin Gwai" (it was also remade before, in India), with a third to come this year. That gives Lionsgate even more material to milk instead of nourishing its own original horror ideas.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16853&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/03/08 20:49:47
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

8/06/09 laressa its inspiring it showed me to find my destiny in life cuz i wasnt put on dis earth 4 nothin 5 stars
10/07/08 megha just see the movie 3 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! Kept me on the edge of my seat 5 stars
6/16/08 action movie fan rather dull except for very good explosive finale 2 stars
5/08/08 Misti K They definitely dumb it down in the American version... pretty disappointing! 3 stars
3/02/08 John Millheim this movie is not that scary to me, the japanese version is alot better 3 stars
2/21/08 Ace WHAT BOGUS CRAP!!! It just kept going from bad to worse, so I left before it was over! 2 stars
2/13/08 Ming Good try on doing this remake...I think the story need to be more beliveable 3 stars
2/03/08 Veronica Jarvis Absolutely great if you're into these types of movies...def worth your time! 4 stars
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  01-Feb-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2008



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