The Eye
Sin-Je Lee, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon
Directed By:
Oxide and Danny Pang

While often labeled a horror title, the Chinese film The Eye really comes across as more of a psychological thriller/mystery. Directed by Oxide and Danny Pang, this film is about Mun (Sin-Je Lee), a young woman who receives a cornea transplant to give her back the sight she lost at age 2. As she grows used to her newfound sight, she starts to see unsettling images which she comes to understand are the spirits of the dead, and even worse, dark spirits that take the dead away. Along with this, her bedroom changes appearance to that of another one she has never seen before.

They story provides some interesting twists and changes, that, while lacking in originality, do accent the main arc of the plot well enough to give the characters their place. Sin-Je Lee does a wonderful job as a woman learning to see for the first time. In sequences seen through her eyes early on, the camera shows a blurred world that hides unseen horror, giving the character and view both some inquisitive fear to the scene. Lawrence Chou as Dr. Wah is a pretty, well, iffy character. As Mun's psychotherapist, he too easily believes her when she tells him of what she's seeing and seems to fall in love with her at the drop of a hat. While both may be linked, these plot elements seem far too convenient. But, too be honest, almost all of the elements having to do with the doctor and his uncle (and to be honest, anything medical in nature) are too convenient and obviously just simple plot devices. To counter this, though, are some fine performances by Chutcha Rujinanon as Ling and Yut Lai So as Yingying, who both accent the character of Mun and her plight quite well.

When you get into the heart of the story, though, things do tend to take a different path, whether it be because the film needed some kind of resolution or it was the intention of the script all along. A lot of time is spent with Mun seeing the dead who won't move on or the dark spirits take the dead with them. By a good bit into the movie, a few hints dropped here and there (which don't really seem like a lot) push Mun and Wah towards locating the donor for her new eyes. At this point, we're given a tale of a young girl branded as a witch who tries to warn her village of a mass disaster only to fail and commit suicide in her grief. When this element is resolved, one might think things are back to normal only to be given the obligatory "linking sequence", in which Mun's life is largely paralleled to the donor's by failing to stop a tragedy.

The Eye is filmed in a slow, paced and deliberate manner, not unlike a Kubrik film. The bulk of the film slowly builds, with rare instances of shock or elements slid in to unnerve. Even the more disturbing moments have their intense build and it's only a rare moment when the camera moves about sloppily, making every shot strong and focused. The visual style of the movie is clean and crisp and there's a definitely different look accented in colorful hues between locations. Special effects have a nice place in the film without being obvious, something most modern blockbusters seem to fail at. One of the strongest aspects of the film is the use of sound effects and the soundtrack to build a menacing experience.

This film shows a lot of similarities in elements present in the film to other flicks, such as The Mothman Prophecies and The Sixth Sense (Come on, the whole "I see dead people" is obvious). For those who want to find more oriental horror flicks like Ringu, I would say that The Eye is a good rental, but honestly, the film is pretty predictable and the plot tends to be weak because of so many "easy solutions" that are used to push things along. For those who need big and fast action, you'll be bored before too long, but those who enjoy a good slow build should enjoy what they see.

- - Vane

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