The Eye (Gin gwai)

Rating 4

Directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang Fat

Written by Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui, Danny Pang Fat and Oxide Pang Chun

Starring Lee Sin-Je (Angelica Lee), Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Yin Ping Ko, Candy Lo, Yut Lai So and Pierre Png

Wong Kar Mun (Lee Sin-Je), who has been blind since the age of two, undergoes a cornea transplant operation to restore her eyesight. She goes to live with her grandmother (played by Ying Ping Ko) and attends sessions with a young psychologist, Dr Wah (Lawrence Chou), to help her adapt to her new life as a sighted person. However, when she begins to have recurring nightmares and see strange ghostly figures, she shuts herself away, pretending to be blind once again. Eventually, she and Dr Wu undertake a journey to a rural village in Thailand in search of answers to help explain what is happening to her.

‘The Eye’ was the second film made by the Hong Kong based Pang Brothers. It received a lot of attention on the back of the critical success of the Japanese horror film ‘Ringu’ (The Ring), which was, at that time, being remade in Hollywood. It noticeably differs from J-horror films like ‘The Ring’, ‘Dark Water’ and ‘Ju-on: The Grudge’, although it also shares some similarities with them, dealing as it does with people, the mores of the society they live in, and the ghostly apparitions that menace them. In this particular case, suicide as a sin is the seed from which the story grows.

There are some very nice visual touches and the film uses the aura of menace extremely well. The scene in which Mun is trapped in a lift in her grandmother’s apartment block with the spirit of an old man is notably creepy. The film also points out the difficulties of expecting a blind person to adapt to becoming sighted. The things Mun had always recognised by touch mean nothing to her when she sees them for the first time. She becomes separated from the life she had always known (she is required to stop playing the violin with the orchestra for blind musicians she had previously been a part of), but she still feels isolated from the world she is now expected to join.

The Pang brothers filmed two sequels to ‘The Eye’, which was also remade in India (as ‘Naina’) and in Hollywood; a widely unloved version starring Jessica Alba. They made their Hollywood debut, the horror film ‘The Messengers’, in 2007.

‘The Eye’ has a 65% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 98 reviews.

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