Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Movie review: The Eye (2002)

The Heroes webisode #3, the concluding chapter of the supersonic mailman, Echo DeMille, is here. I thought the first webisode (that's a craptastic word, isn't it: "webisode") was pretty good/had a lot of potential, but the second and third fell off badly. It was nice to see a familiar face at the end there, however.

On the movie-ish side of things, I still haven't seen Dark Knight or X-Files 2.0 but I did catch Gin gwai, a/k/a the original The Eye, on IFC the other night. Let me make it perfectly clear that this is not the flick remake "starring" Jessica Alba. (I think you should have to be able to actually act to "star" in something, but that's just me. I liked JA well enough in Dark Angel where she played a socially misfit, genetically manipulated, ass-kicking post-apocalyptic pseudopunk but it's been all downhill since then.) Nope, I caught the original Hong Kong flick, subtitles and all.

What I know about Asian cinema wouldn't fill a shoebox, and what I know about Asian horror is even less. I wouldn't call The Eye a horror film, however: it's really a ghost story. Pretty Wong Kar Mun, blind since the age of two, has received corneal transplants but her new eyes see a lot more than she hoped: the ghosts of the recently, suddenly and unfortunately deceased, as well as the spirits who come to escort them to the next world. Mun is understandably freaked out and travels to Thailand, hunky psychologist in tow, to learn what she can about the organ donor. The girl whose eyes Mun now has was some sort of psychic who foresaw all the deaths of the people in her village; she was considered a witch, tormented and committed suicide in her bedroom. It falls to Mun to soothe her troubled spirit and send her on her way.

This little movie (around 1.5 hours in length) is pretty good: decently acted, atmospheric, a couple of jump scares and creepy faces, negligible gore. I kept thinking that the subtitles were going to bump me out of it but I stayed engaged throughout the movie. And the cinematography is interesting, veering in and out of frame and focus, giving us a sense of how disoriented Mun must be, learning first to see at all and then to see such horrors.

I did have a couple of small story quibbles but they're minor. After she's seen some truly weird shit, Mun needs to talk to her hottie shrink. While she waits for him to finish an appointment, she goes to a restaurant where she sees a ghostly woman and baby hovering around the beef. Trying not to wig, she is completely surprised when a waitress says to her, "Oh, you see them too? They don't usually like to be seen" ... and then walks off, never to be heard from again. Um, no: you would grab that waitress and demand some explanations, and then drag her off to your shrink as proof that you weren't crazy (or at least weren't alone in your insanity). My other issue was that while Mun sees both restless ghosts and precognitive visions of death, the eye donor only saw the deaths-to-come. It was never explained why Mun was all ghost-whispery instead of just another Cassandra. As I said, minor stuff.

In sum, The Eye is an entertaining ghost story and good for folks who prefer boo to blood. It wasn't compelling enough, however, to make me want to watch the American version to get outraged over yet another Hollywood debacle remake of an original Asian film. The American one's got a better poster tho'.

1 comment:

  1. My fave Alba flick was Idle Hands and she has gotten exponentially worse ever since.

    I saw her version of 'Eye' and wasn't impressed, it has confusing points and just drags in the latter half. Plus her psychologist is a bit of a prick. I have wanted to see this version to see if it clears things up anymore, maybe I'll catch it sometime.