with Angelica Lee
Directed by The Pang Brothers
by Chad Van Wagner
First off, let’s get something straight: M Night Shyamalan did not invent people seeing ghosts in The Sixth Sense. I mention this because ever since the Pang Brothers’ excellent The Eye hit these shores, the film has been saddled with comparisons, even cries of rip-off, from people whose cultural memory only seems to go back a few years.
Yes, Mun (played by the unsettlingly hot Chinese pop star Angelica Lee) sees dead people. The similarities end there, however, as Mun is not actually psychic in the normal sense. No, she was a blind woman who happened to be unfortunate enough to be fitted with a pair of corneas that allow her to notice the hundreds of ghosts that are apparently walking around modern China. The weirdness takes off from there.
What makes The Eye so entertaining is not just the creep-out moments (although those are nothing to sneeze at). It’s actually a fairly complex story involving what can happen when someone benefits from another’s misfortune, as Mun did with the donated corneas. The trail that leads back to the donor is a guilt-ridden and uncomfortable one, and when Mun is allowed a chance to pay back her debt, she’s not only doing it for the donor, she’s doing it to purge herself. Granted, the film is not free of cheesy moments (the love interest earns a few cringes), but when was the last time you saw a horror film that made you think of new wrinkles weeks after you saw it?
In addition to the solid storytelling, the Pang brothers fill the screen with perceptive touches that may well be lost on those looking for simple entertainment. The film opens with a mockery of its own media, then immediately plunges the viewer into the world a blind person “sees”: Sorry viewer, the film broke. You’re in OUR world now.
Like more or less every worthwhile horror film that’s come out of the East in the last five years, The Eye is going to be remade here in the States (Tom Cruise is the star in question on this one). Yes, The Ring was a successful transition, but that’s no excuse to wait for the West to take up the slack.