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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.6%
Worth A Look56.98%
Just Average: 18.6%
Pretty Crappy: 4.65%
Sucks: 1.16%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Eye, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A fine if familiar ghost story; some remarkably creepy moments."
4 stars

'The Eye' is probably one of those horror films completely ruined by Internet hype.

Those lucky enough to stumble onto it with no expectations were most likely blown away by a stylish and, at times, quite frightening supernatural thriller about a blind woman (Lee Sin-je) who has a corneal transplant and begins seeing blurry and troubling things. Now, though, the Internet backlash has kicked in, and some cynics want you to know that The Eye is just a ghost story, for Christ's sake, and not a particularly original one at that (dutifully ticking off predecessors like The Sixth Sense). Granted, the film doesn't re-invent the wheel. And the premise might've been explored with a bit more cleverness and curiosity.

But. The Eye, directed by the hotshot Hong Kong brothers Danny and Oxide Pang, made me jump a bunch of times, and seriously creeped me out at least three times. One such time comes early in the game, when the woman, called Mun, is recuperating in the hospital after her eye operation. Her eyesight isn't anywhere near 100% yet; the world is still a blur to her. She hears sounds out in the hallway, and rises from her bed to investigate. What follows is simple to describe: she has an encounter with a ghost. And we can see that coming. What we haven't bargained for is how aggressively the Pang brothers use the film vocabulary of a blurred, disoriented point of view to ratchet up the terror. We may also not be ready for the Pangs' sadistic use of sound (crank this 5.1 Dolby sucker way up if you want to shit your pants). The ghost doesn't even really do anything. It moans, it says something, and it slowly, sloooowly approaches the camera while staying defiantly out of focus. And it's the stuff of nightmares.

Later, Mun wants to take an elevator up to her apartment, but notices on a security camera that a gray-haired ghost, facing the corner (shades of Blair Witch, and done with infinitely more menace here), is in there. She opts for another elevator. She peers inside. It's empty. She gets in. Pushes the button for the 15th floor. And suddenly we're into a sequence that could do for elevators what Psycho did for showers. And it doesn't end there. We may be thinking to ourselves, "She should've just taken the stairs," but the Pangs then do for stairways what they just did for elevators. It's a virtuoso scene of sustained suspense.

What do ghosts want? Movies, including this one, tell us that ghosts are embittered vestiges of the soul, taken abruptly from life and not realizing they don't belong on this plane of existence anymore. As in Ringu and its remake, and as in Sixth Sense, the protagonist must figure out a way to appease the restless souls so that they will move on. Here, Mun's transplanted corneas are courtesy of a deceased Thai girl with a backstory to rival Carrie White's. In life, the girl was ostracized for her visions; now Mun is seeing through her eyes. Inevitably, The Eye loses some force when it starts explaining itself. The first 45 minutes or so -- culminating in that celebrated elevator sequence -- carry enough what-the-hell-is-going-on? freakishness to power five lesser movies. We expect resolution, a return to order, an affirmation that all of this is going somewhere logical, but when we get it, there's unavoidable disappointment. The Pangs pay a price for laying such creepy groundwork in the first half: they have a hard time following their own act.

The incongruously concussive climax has been jeered for echoing that of The Mothman Prophecies, a moron-movie no self-respecting horror film should share a room with, but it reminded me more of the wham-bam opening scenes of Final Destination and especially Final Destination 2 (which The Eye's similar highway massacre preceded). Hong Kong movies seem to exist comfortably in the overlap zone between the spiritual and the hyperbolically physical, and some of The Eye's excesses might put off Western tastes. (It's reportedly being groomed for a Hollywood remake by Tom Cruise's production company.) I cannot say The Eye is the end-all-be-all of modern supernatural horror, and the Pangs, enthusiastic and skilled as they are, lack the perversity of a Takashi Miike or the pathos of an Alejandro Amenabar.

Still, the brothers have contributed more than a few fine moments to the horror pantheon, and interrupted my sleep patterns for a couple of nights. I can't really ask more than that.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7213&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/12/07 17:23:53
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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
10/26/09 bored mom Cellular memory? More like Legend of the Cursed Eyeballs. 3 stars
10/23/09 SouthWind45 Legacy and, worse, insists suggest that Brazilian professionals are solely responsible for 2 stars
10/22/09 Gangster38 The schools I went to were out of control. , 5 stars
5/28/07 Bitchflaps Doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but there are some effective moments. 3 stars
10/31/06 William Goss Familiar, yet still solid. 4 stars
10/02/05 ravinder singh i like this movei 5 stars
9/01/05 Indrid Cold A couple perfectly done scenes, but doesn't even come close to sustaining it. 3 stars
8/10/05 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
6/22/05 M a bit silly, but skin crawling. beautifully shot. 4 stars
6/10/05 whatevr as creepy as the sixth sense 5 stars
6/08/05 The Grinch Don't believe the hype. The lamest of all overrated asian "horror". Watch Odishan instead 2 stars
6/04/05 Charlene Javier Great production values! 4 stars
5/07/05 K. Sear Nothing new but beautifully executed. 4 stars
1/12/05 SAKURAZUKAMORI Very effective, creepy movie. 5 stars
12/31/04 Raven Great drama with some horror elements. Ju-on sucked, watch this instead. It has a plot. 4 stars
10/18/04 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
5/17/04 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
4/25/04 Lord Jiggy Well done, owes Sixth Sense a lot, but doesn't ultimately pay off. 3 stars
4/17/04 JERRY ahh cuz i wet meself! 5 stars
2/08/04 matt mathias brilliant...it's all in the sound...turn it up loud!! 5 stars
1/20/04 Mayet quite better than inner senses... but nothing beats ring 4 stars
11/07/03 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
10/24/03 Mickey With A C This is an EXCELLENT movie 5 stars
10/04/03 john holdsworth top film better than usual U.S. crap 5 stars
9/13/03 the Grinch Don't believe the hype. Weak, cliched movie. Watch Audition instead... 2 stars
7/01/03 Kyle Worth checking out. 4 stars
6/23/03 Eastwood Honestly, I've never been genuinely scared like that. Leveled off nicely at the end. 4 stars
6/09/03 hugh frightening 5 stars
6/05/03 chris Plays it safe, but some scenes make the overall film worthwhile 4 stars
5/30/03 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
5/18/03 Loyd This movie has been copied from a book. I read the book 3 years ago. 1 stars
5/15/03 joe biedron very scary stuff 4 stars
3/19/03 Andy Bronson a great follow up to bangkok dangerous 5 stars
3/17/03 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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