‘The Eye’ is undoubtedly one of the most popular Asian horror films of the 21st century. A critical and commercial hit upon its initial release, it has gained a devoted fan base that only seems to grow bigger. But does it really deserve all the admiration it seems to evoke?
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Mun, a blind violinist, undergoes an eye cornea transplant and regains her eyesight. While trying to get used to the new aspects of everyday life, she comes to a shocking realization. She has gained the ability to see ghosts. After seeking help from her therapist, Dr. Wah, the two of them start looking for the donor’s identity, assured by the belief that the answer to this mysterious problem lays to this person’s past.
The Pang brothers, the film’s directors and co-writers claim that they were inspired to write the script when they read in a newspaper the story of a girl who underwent a similar operation and after a while killed herself and started to wonder what could have possibly led to this tragic incident. Leaving this fact aside, it is more than obvious that the plot is heavily influenced by far superior ghost movies like ‘’The Sixth Sense’’ and ‘’The Devil’s Backbone’’, while trying and mostly failing to provide a noteworthy twist in the all too familiar I-see-dead-people storyline. The interesting part is that it works better as a mystery rather than a horror film. Although it features some genuine scares, they are too scattered throughout the movie. What it successfully manages to achieve, is to construct a rather intelligent mystery, one that makes the audience eager to find out what is going to happen.
The Pang Brothers, after the success they gained with their debut feature ‘’Bangkok Dangerous’’, they decided to give horror a try, the genre with which they would be more associated with. ‘’The Eye’’, their sophomore film, although wildly familiar, is extremely well made. From the get-go, they establish a creepy atmosphere and they constantly surprise the audience with plenty of visual flare and a suspenseful build up. Their impressive knack for moody and scary imagery is evident throughout the film, but the most important aspect of their directorial talent is that not only it saves the film from being mediocre but it also helps it rise above many other Asian horror films.
The greatest and, surprisingly, most effective facet of the movie is Angelica Lee’s mesmerizing leading performance. Combining her inherent charm and her exceptional acting abilities, she delivers one of the greatest female performances in a 21st century horror film . Her impressive effort alone makes ‘’The Eye’’ worth seeing. The supporting cast is also game, but they cannot match Lee’s performance.
Decha Srimantra’s cinematography is excellent and gives a suitably creepy and atmospheric feel to the movie, while the sound effects prove to be a necessity to the scary parts, improving the essential sense of dread instead of undermining it. Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn’t follow the example of the other technical aspects and proves to be extremely irritating. It is, at times, so amateurish and out of place that you just can’t help but laugh. It often makes the film walk dangerously close into melodramatic territory and outright ruins some of the most powerful scenes
Leaving the off-putting music score and its lack of originality aside, ‘’The Eye’’, although not exactly a success, is a decent and extremely well-directed horror film. The characters are well developed, the performances are fantastic and the cinematography is scary and beautiful in equal measures. Everybody who loves a good, old-fashioned scary picture that relies more on dread and atmosphere than gore should check it out and most certainly avoid the far inferior American remake.