Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Producer: Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Cast: Angelica Lee (Sin Je), Lawrence Chow, So Yut Lai, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Ko Yin Ping, Edmond Chen, Ben Yuen, Winson Yip, Chutcha Rujihanon, Pierre Png, Wang Sue Yuen
Running Time: 98 min.
Much like the well-intentioned but underwhelming Inner Senses, The Eye stays a healthy distance away from the camp where past Hong Kong horror films have traditionally spent their summer vacations and attempts to capture the tension and dread typical of newer Japanese films in this category. Alas, it falls short of its mark. It’s certainly better than the dinky little Kiddie Koaster, but can’t match the thrills offered by the roller coasters that the big kids ride (and wait three and a half hours in line for).
We’ve got Angelica Lee as Mun, a woman with bony Carrie-Anne Moss shoulders who has been blind since age two. She undergoes a corneal transplant with the elder Dr. Lo to restore her vision, then begins to see ghosts and flickers of an unfamiliar place while at home. But, since the sensation of seeing is new to her and she doesn’t quite trust her new eyesight yet, she does not fully realize that these are supernatural phenomena. At least, not at first. Eventually, the movie shows us so damn many phantoms, apparitions, revenants, and what have you while advancing the rest of the plot at a snail’s pace that the only horrified cries from the audience will be along the lines of: “Okay. She sees ghosts. WE GET IT!!!”
At long last, the younger Dr. Lo, the specialist who has been helping Mun get acquainted with her new fifth sense, assists her in tracking down the cornea donor to get some answers. Off to Thailand they go, and the facts they learn about the previous owner of Mun’s peepers are more disturbing than the visions she’s encountered thus far.
And so on.
The Eye isn’t a bad film, but, all things considered, I wasn’t impressed. The big problem is that it has very tough competition in Japan’s crop of horror movies from the last few years and it’s hard not to make unfortunate comparisons. It doesn’t have Ringu’s tick-tock impending doom; nor Kairo’s quiet, bizarre otherworldliness; nor Kakashi’s smothering sense of isolation; nor Ju-On’s primal, jolt-a-minute rawness. What it does have is one very effective scene involving an elevator, a fact-based ending that scores a few points for ballsiness, and a premise with more potential than was utilized. That’s about it. I won’t make the absurd generalization that Hong Kong can’t make a good horror film, because the potential is certainly there. Keep trying, people.
Numskull’s Rating: 6/10