Eye, The

Director: Hideo Nakata

Yet more proof that Asian cinema currently leads the world in the production of spine-chilling horror movies. Following the phenomenal world-wide success of Hideo Nakata’s Ring, which spawned a string of sequels and imitators, plus a forthcoming Hollywood re-make, the supernatural onslaught from the East continues. And like its predecessors, this lyrical, affecting chiller from Danny and Oxide Pang fleshes out its haunting, atmospheric images by exploring the emotional and psychological dimensions of its lead character’s hallucinatory nightmare.
Blind since the age of two, 20-year-old Mann (Lee Sin-Jie), recovers her sight with the help of an operation that gives her the corneas of a dead donor; but when she opens her eyes, she sees a lot more than she bargained for. Blurry figures lurk at the periphery of her vision and melancholy ghosts float into view. Yet the distressed young boy searching for his lost school report goes unnoticed by others, and the old man facing the corner of the lift creates no image on the CCTV security screen.
A choppy torrent of images rendered Oxide and Danny Pang’s debut feature, the hyper-kinetic crime movie Bangkok Dangerous, almost unwatchable. The Eye is far more fluid and involving, thanks to their more confident storytelling and a moving performance by lead actress Lee Sin-Jie. An over-elaborated pre-finale sequence, in which Mann travels to Thailand to unravel the mystery behind her female donor’s troubled life, arrests the narrative flow, threatening to stop the movie dead in its tracks. But then the Hong Kong-born, Thailand-based directors retrieve the situation with an unforgettable ending. Even so, it is the human story and the tiny incidental images which linger longest in the mind.
Hong Kong-Thailand, 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 110 mins.

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