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The Eye (The Pang Brothers) 2002


    You would think that concrete knowledge of the afterlife would put many of a personís greatest fears to rest, but usually in movies where people discover a new gift to see the dead, the ability invariably sends them into a tizzy. The Pang Brothersí The Eye is no exception to the long list of films that uses this device as an pretext to stage a series of horrifying set pieces. Set mainly in Hong Kong, The Eye starts as Mun (Angelica Lee), a woman in her twenties, receives a corneal transplant that gives her the sight that sheís lacked since birth, as well as bestowing upon her the aforementioned ghostly clairvoyance, which also allows her to see the dreadful memories of their tortured previous owner. The movie comes with a pretty basic setup really, and the botched organ transplant film is a fairly hefty horror subgenre, but even when you can guess exactly whatís going to happen in a given scene, the movie manages to scare you anyhow.


    Obvious comparisons can be made between the nearly bloodless frights provided by The Eye and M. Night Shyamalanís monster hit The Sixth Sense, but pound for pound, The Eye is a good deal scarier. Instead of utilizing a muted cinematic language to create a mood where its fright effects can flourish, the Pang Brothers use almost imperceptible computer effects (at least when seen through the hazy gauze of Munís slowly recovering vision) so that one can scarcely tell who is alive and who is dead at times. Its minimalist effects donít mean that the scares are minimal as well though. The jump scenes are frequently doled out, making the end result a bit more disturbing than the somewhat languidly paced The Sixth Sense. The Eye may not be a technical powerhouse of a movie, but itís far from inadequately made. There seems to be far less artistry than attempted shock on display here, but since the vast majority of those endeavors are successful, the end result is satisfying. An unexpected twist of events near the one-hour mark shifts the filmís focus from terror to redemption, but the movie doesnít become syrupy in the transformation, and surely enough, it slides back toward scares for a surprisingly apocalyptic conclusion. The Eye is far from a masterful or innovative film, but thereís no doubt that itís a solid genre piece thatís more than adept at evoking the thrills necessary to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. 


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Jeremy Heilman