The Pang Brothers’ The Eye is one amongst another group of Asian horror films that received remake treatment in the United States, but as I watch the original sources more and more, I begin to question why such films have been chosen to be remade because aside from Pulse, I have never found myself particularly impressed with any of the originals and The Eye is yet another one of those cases. We have an interesting scenario raised in The Eye, but as a whole it felt nothing more than just something that came and went. Whether it be from the multitude of moments where I had the urge to think, “I’ve seen that before,” or just the emptiness that filled my thought during The Eye – most of it all just seemed to be so flat.
Angelica Lee is the film’s lead as Mun, a violinist who was has been blind since two years old, and she receives a corneal transplant that gives her vision. The concept of seeing once again is exciting to her at first, but soon it becomes troubling upon her own sightings of what appear to be gruesome deaths set to come. This is a neat idea at hand, but suddenly The Eye loses itself within the style as after it keeps going for a long while, the motif soon becomes repetitive and the film ends up gaining a sense of monotony (something that seems to have caught me about many modern Asian horror films, particularly those which have been remade in the Americas).
What’s cool about The Eye is what it wants to do with its premise, for it keeps under Mun’s own perspective as she is seeing all of these creepy visions that foretell deaths set to come. It would already be one thing to note that the Pang Brothers’ utilization of perspective indeed allows the film rise higher up, but the problem is that for how much it is being lifted in terms of its premise, many other elements do not come along to the same heights. One can already tell that there is much to be found within the film’s potential of where it can take this idea and show how it is damaging our protagonist, but it fails at this because it all feels much more flair rather than matter.
For how terrified Angelica Lee is inside of her performance as Mun, the central problem is that Mun is not an interesting character herself. Too much of the film seems focused upon building up a distinctive atmosphere from the premonitions of deaths coming from the ghostly sightings in which Mun is witnessing, but even for how much we are being shown about these odd sightings, there is never anything particularly compelling about Mun herself. The whole film seems to be built around what happens to her, rather than herself as a figure and thus our interest is so easily thrown off as there has been nothing else established about Mun that makes her as absorbing as a premise like this could sound. Soon, it becomes evident that this is where The Eye lacks a proper function, but this especially becomes a big problem the moment in which the climactic sequence comes.
The climactic sequence is perhaps the most troublesome moment of the whole film for it also feels like a point of interest that suddenly comes at the point in which it is too late. Yet it never seems to feel like it makes sense, instead it comes in at a level to which it is the most far-fetched thing that could ever happen with such a premise. It is arguably the one moment in the film that feels so big especially when put amongst all else, and suddenly it ends up falling flat because the nature in which it comes out is far too silly for the film’s own good and it only sinks down even more from there. Notably the Pang brothers were inspired by an actual accident that took place in Bangkok in 1990, but for how much it reveals it also takes away from what the film had spent its time building up to be, exposing one of The Eye‘s biggest problems.
The Eye is fascinating sporadically, but the moment in which interest comes in is a moment that is far too late, and given how much the film had been spending its time forming what it wanted to be, it feels so out of place. There’s so much more that could be done with a premise like this and the direction in which the Pang brothers choose to go along with in order to keep The Eye flowing is most admirable, but unfortunately it is not enough to save what is an uninteresting story built upon more uninteresting moments to come to a ridiculously far-fetched climactic sequence. Add this to the list of disappointments to which I have run into with venturing through Asian horror films.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Palm Pictures.
Directed by the Pang Brothers
Screenplay by Jojo Hui, Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Produced by Peter Chan, Lawrence Cheng, Jojo Hui, Eric Tsang
Starring Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon
Release Year: 2002
Running Time: 98 minutes