The Eye (2002)

Directors: Oxide & Danny Pang

Starring: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou

“Why are you sitting in my chair?” (mental scary ghost, The Eye)

Poor old Mun, she’s blind as a fucking bat. Her luck soon changes though when she’s given a cornea transplant, finally allowing her to see the world. Problem is, she’s seeing it through the eyes of some psycho bint who claimed she could see ghosts, then hung herself because nobody liked her. Cue a lot of scary set-pieces as Mun tries to figure out exactly what’s going on and learn a bit more about the nutter whose eyes she’s been lumbered with while being mercilessly abused by numerous ghosts.

Forget an eye transplant, it’s a new arsehole you’ll be wanting after you’ve seen this. There are a number of memorable scenes in this film that are so pant-crappingly creepy I couldn’t even begin to describe without thinking about them and instinctively tightening the old bumcheeks. And even if I could describe them safely without fear, I wouldn’t dare for fear of wasting the surprise. Needless to say, if you’ve already seen the film, all I need to do is give a list of words and each one should send a chill down your spine.

Elevator. Meat. Calligraphy. Report Card. And, if you’re perceptive and noticed it, train.

Similarly, a number of sentences that would sound normal under any other circumstances now have different connotations after seeing The Eye. Nobody can say to me “I’m freezing” or “why are you sitting in my chair” any more without me going crazy and wildly swinging a stool at them. Let’s not beat about the bush – assuming you’re using the correct horror-viewing formula of “no lights + maximum sound”, The Eye is one extremely scary film.

It’s got quite a few jumpy moments, two of which happen before the film even starts (the intro burns out as if the projector has broken, then there’s a loud bang and you see a faceless version of the heroine. Then there’s a loud scream and an evil red face booms onto the screen followed by the warning “SIT TIGHT”). The majority of the frights, however, take place in the first half of the film. Once Mun realises what’s going on, the rest of the film becomes more of a mystery story as she and the hapless geek Dr Wah run all over Asia trying to find out about her eye donor. This is a shame because it’s this second half where the film starts to fall apart a little. The final fifteen minutes then try to go more for a big action-packed finale, but it doesn’t really suit the mood of the film.

Mere seconds later in this scene something happens that makes you shit yourself.

That aside, The Eye contains one of the scariest scenes I’ve seen in a very long time. Many people reviewing this film online have referred to the now famous elevator scene, which is certainly very tense, but by far the scariest scene, especially when watched at a deafening volume with the lights out as I first watched it, is the scene in which Mun, having recently regained her sight, takes a calligraphy lesson to learn how to write properly. I won’t say any more about it but needless to say, I have not been terrified like that for quite some time.

Do not, under any circumstances, go into a lift if you see this chap.

The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag, because there are some moments when it’s absolutely terrible (such as the scene where Dr Wah thinks Mun’s sister is hitting on her), but whenever a ghost turns up and the tension builds there’s a little musical sting which also builds in tension and volume as the ghost approaches (check out the scene with the woman and child ghost entering the restaurant with the meat to see what I mean… as she approaches, the music swells). So while the music is great at some points, it’s ridiculously cheesy and shite at others.

By far the cleverest thing about The Eye however is its biggest secret, something that the film doesn’t even address. There are actually ghosts hidden throughout the film. Some of them are pretty obvious as they’re part of the plot (the woman in the hospital, the calligraphy ghost etc), but others you won’t see unless you look for them. They’re tucked away in the background and you may only acknowledge them on a subliminal level.

Awww, here's a lovely scene in WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE WHAT'S THAT FACE IN THE WINDOW

Perhaps the most effective example of this, and one that will send a shiver down your fucking SOUL should you happen to spot it unexpectedly like I did, is during the scene where Mun and Dr Wah are sitting on a train (the scene where Mun looks at the photo of her and Ying Ying). When the train enters a tunnel the face of a ghost can be seen in the window.

Since the ghost isn’t mentioned again and there isn’t a big deal made about it, it’s perhaps the most chilling moment of the film for me. It’s particularly effective when you watch the film with a group of friends and they didn’t notice it. Just rewind the film after you’ve watched it and freak the shite out of them.

The Eye is a great film that I’d thoroughly recommended. While the final act fails to live up to the rest of the film, the use of some terrifying scare scenes, a lot of good ghost appearances and a plot that can actually be followed (something that is often lost in translation with Asian films) make for an excellent fright flick that you really should see now.

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3 thoughts on “The Eye (2002)”

  1. Spot-on review of an excellent film!

    I would personally add one more to the keyword list: «Old lady» or «corridor». I think that scene is just as eerie as any, and effectively introduces the sickening atmosphere of the film.

    Chronologically: Old lady / corridor. Elevator. Meat. Calligraphy. Report Card. Train.

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