Director: The Pang Brothers
Cast: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chow, Candy Lo
In the past few years, Hong Kong horror film genre has been dominated by Troublesome Night and The Ring. Most of the horror films are either a complete replica or slight modification of these films. Generally, they follow the same format: Two to three short stories with the emphasis of a retaliation plot, and the cinematic device derives mainly from the highly successful Japanese horror film the Ring. Can the emergence of the Pang Brothers' The Eye break these cliches?
The plot of this film shares some similarities with the Hollywood blokbuster Sixth Sense. Man (Anglica Lee) is a blind girl. With a new and risky corneal transplant operation, she restores her vision. After that, strange things happen. She sees more than normal person. What makes her more scared is that she cannot see herself in the mirror. A stranger rather appears from the reflected image. She begins to wonder who the original owner of the corneals is...
Just a little background information, the Pang brothers are not newcomers of Hong Kong cinema. They have been doing a lot of editing works (e.g. The Storm riders) before. In the late 1990s, they moved to Thailand. They directed their first film there and it became a big success. Filmmaker Peter Chan then invited them back to Hong Kong to direct this film. Their editing backgrounds have allowed them to maximize the flexibility and capacity of the narrative.
The story and the whole setup of this film is not innovative at all. In fact, after all these years of exploitation, the story is hardly the attraction of the horror genre anymore. The prominent factor that keeps us in our seat is rather the vision of the directors. Whether the genre can be rejuvenated is all up to their capability. Based on this criterion, this film is quite a success. The cinematography is effective. The noir style builds up the gloomy atmosphere of the film tangibly. Loneliness is stressed through the carefully considered composition. Even at daytime scene, we can sense the solitude of the character. The editing is superbly done, it really draws us into the narrative. For instance, the montage of the hospital flashback is creepy. Even though all the twists and the ending do not break any cliche, the extraordinary direction by the Pang brothers succeeds in garnering the attention of the audience and keeping them fully engaged in the film.
Angelica Lee's portrayal of the blind girl is conspicuous. She has a vulnerable face. Actually I think it is all about her eyes. I tell you what, her bright and big eyes can act! You do not have to wait for her to speak the dialogues, her eyes alone already speak for herself, they always carry complex emotions. Lawrence Chow's role as the psychiatrist lacks authority. I mean, he does not have a doctor's face or attitude at all. But what he is doing in the film is not about his profession anyway, so it is still tolerable. The rest of the cast (excluding the cameo of Candy Lo) are mostly unknown actors. I think it reinforces the realistic feeling of the film, hence making the story more plausible.
This film is well received and widely praised in Hong Kong, but don't expect it to be a total reinvention of the horror genre. The Pang brothers merely refined and furnished the story with the right elements at the right time. To put it in a simple term, their role in this film is equal to the importance of a good chef to a restaurant.
DVD (HK version) - The DVD version features beautiful wide screen transfer and DTS sound. It also has Cantonese/Mandarin langauge tracks. Give it a shot if you are a fan of the horror genre.
Cool guy(s) - Angelica Lee
Reviewed by: Kantorates