Published Jan 01, 2006The Eye is the one of the most chilling films of the year. Twin directors Danny and Oxide Pang triumph with suspense over gore in this horror-thriller that has swept its native Hong Kong and inspired Tom Cruise to remake it for Hollywood.
The Eye's about a young woman named Mun (Lee Sin-Je) who went blind at age two, but regains her sight 18 years later through a cornea transplant. However, Mun's new eyes give her more than just vision. Mun sees ghosts of living people just moments before they meet their sudden end: a man with a crushed skull, an 11-year-old girl who succumbs to a brain tumour. Mysterious shadow people and disfigured spirits push Mun towards a nervous breakdown until she discovers the face of another woman when she looks in the mirror.
The face belongs to Ling, the original donor of the corneas. With the help of her sympathetic psychotherapist, Dr. Wah (Vancouver-raised Lawrence Chou), Mun traces the corneas to Thailand where she learns that Ling killed herself after suffering a lifetime of persecution for foretelling death. Mun tries to redeem both herself and Ling by preventing a catastrophe in an explosive finale. Foreknowledge is a gift and a curse.
The Eye cops a riff from 1999's The Sixth Sense, which also featured a hero who could see the supernatural. The Pang brothers, however, add a layer of pathos when the villagers scorn the girl who tried to warn her neighbours of impending death time and time again. Instead of heeding her words, they vilify her. These scenes are the film's most haunting.
As TV commercial directors, the Pangs create a stylish palette of pale blue and menacing shadows. Like Mun, we see only blurry figures marching towards her. We share her helplessness and fear, and the sound effects and music further punctuate these scary moments. (Mongrel Media)