Review by Michael Jacobson
Lee Sin-Je, Lawrence Chou
Directors: The Pang Brothers
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Palm Pictures/Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: October 21, 2003
Eye is a
striking piece of modern horror, with a brilliant premise and an execution style
that isnít quite equal to it. But
concept is that of a young woman named Mun (Sin-Je) who, after being blind most
of her life, receives a cornea transplant operation to restore her sight.
But she gets more than she bargained for when her returned eyesight also
allows her to see disembodied spirits and the very shadow of death stalking
those around her who are about to become the dearly departed.
world around her becomes a terrifying place, for her and for us, because nothing
is ever quite what it seems. Surprises
are around every corner, and they arenít always pleasant.
For Mun, her only hope is to go to her handsome young doctor Cho (Chou),
try to learn the identity of her cornea donor, and trace the mystery back to its
donít want to tread too far into plot details, because half of the fun of the
movie is the mystery (the other half would be the terror).
I will say that unlike some horror films, the mystery does unwind in a
satisfactory manner, and that the movieís climactic piece is one of the most
chilling Iíve encountered in a while.
and directed by the Pang Brothers, who are becoming something of an institution
in Asia, this is a picture with plenty of imagination to drive it, but is
unfortunately held back from being truly classic by relying on convention as a
crutch. The most overused element
in horror is what I call the boom-scare, which is simply a sudden loud noise,
maybe or maybe not accompanied by a quick bit of action, that startles instead
of scares. Itís a cheap and
tiresome gimmick normally utilized in pictures without a lot of real fright
power, but sadly, itís used frequently and needlessly here. It tried my patience just a tad.
thankfully, this picture relies on more than just sudden loud surprises to keep
its audience unnerved. A few
brilliant sequences depicting the world through Munís eyes are the disturbing
stuff of nightmares, and pretty young Lee Sin-Je makes for a formidable
protagonist. We feel for her
helplessness; thereís not a lot that can be done when the world becomes a
terrifying place in one individualís eyes.
little more faith in the subject matter and a little less unneeded spice might
have made The Eye a landmark horror film.
As it stands, itís a very good, mostly effective, but flawed
oneÖsadly flawed, because what was wrong was not inherent in the film, its
story or its structure, merely the extracurricular activities.
is not a bad anamorphic transfer at all, considering how much of the picture is
presented in darkened settings. There
is a little unavoidable softness and slight lack of detail from time to time,
but on the flip side, not a lot of grain usually associated with low light high
contrast film stock. Colors are
often deliberately muted as a stylistic choice, but nothing comes across as
transfer error. For the most part,
this DVD seems to serve the creatorsí visions nicely.
5.1 audio is also strong, with dynamic range coming mostly from the
aforementioned boom-scares. A
little background ambience appears from time to time in the rear channels, while
the subwoofer mostly adds impact to the heavy sounds and startling effects.
Dialogue is in Cantonese and Thai, so I couldnít decisively judge the
clarity, but nothing seemed out of sorts.
is a making-of featurette (in Chinese with English subtitles) that talks with
cast and crew and discusses some of the Pang Brothersí inspirations for the
story. In addition, thereís a
trailer, a TV spot, previews for other titles and weblinks.