Senior HTF Member
- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
2 Disc Special Edition
US Rating: Rated PG-13 for Violence/Terror and Disturbing Content
Film Length: 97 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
US Release Date: June 3rd, 2008
The Film - :star::star::star:
“I’m seeing things I shouldn’t see…”
Remakes of Asian horror films are a frequent sport in Hollywood these days. The creative success varies as wildly as the financial benefits of the endeavor. For the most part, these stories employ leading ladies on journeys of perilous investigation or research into whatever strange, paranormal occurrences have disrupted the normality of their lives. Like Naomi Watts (The Ring), Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge) and Kristen Bell (Pulse) before her, Jessica Alba steps into the headliner spot, this time as a concert violinist, Sydney Wells who, blinded by a tragic childhood accident, is about to undergo a corneal transplant and once again see the world. She has adapted very well through the years without sight, compensating in her other senses and, not surprisingly, is apprehensive about the life changing surgery.
But the trepidation abates, and Sydney successfully receives a new set of eyes. It isn’t before long, however, that she begins noticing through her expectedly blurry first images, strange figures; dark shadows that give her great unease. Having to adjust to a sense that her body had long lived without, she finds that no-one believes her story that these scary phantoms in her indistinct ocular sense are anything other than her brain trying to adjust. Over time she suffers flashbacks of things she has never seen; people who are not there and frightening encounters that quickly unsettle her on her road to recovery. Sydney must try to understand the nature of the images she is seeing and find the donor of her eyes before it is too late.
The Pang Brothers gave Asian cinema a very popular chiller back in 2002 with Gin gwai, the story of a blind violinist who suffers terrifying visions after a transplant. The idea wasn’t totally original, as it was reminiscent to (but actually quite different from) 1991’s Body Parts, but with the eerie and ghostly mystique that has become a sub-genre to horror in the Asian cinematic market, it proved a success and was followed by two sequels. Making its way to American screens as a remake was inevitable and, like the original, was directed by two very capable directors. David Moreau and Xavier Palud handle the story with assured hands, providing an ambience that is neither too stylized to be distracting, nor too ordinary to be dismissed. The chills and thrills are fairly straightforward but, with some great lighting, locations, appropriate performances and a score by Marco Beltrami that supersedes the genre altogether, the film comes together rather nicely.
Jessica Alba hasn’t really found the right project for her skills. I believe her to be a capable actress if she would just take more risks with the roles she chooses. Her performance in the Fantastic Four films has been underwhelming at best and, aside from her much lambasted comedic turn in Good Luck Chuck, she hasn’t done much of note (although her turn in Sin City was great). The Eye isn’t the answer, but it is a step in the right direction. The narration she provides as the film opens (which oddly disappears for the remainder of the story) is dull, but looking past that, her performance as the blind musician feels authentic. Alba is a little too even keeled to be dramatically effective at times, but her vulnerability and almost childlike stubbornness to be independent is more effective than you might expect.
Parker Posey (Best in Show) is an odd choice as Sydney’s sister, Helen, since she is far more comfortable (and enjoyable) in stranger and somewhat more off-beat roles, but she serves the purpose well enough here. The rest of the cast, including Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park III) as Dr. Paul Faulkner , are fine but not standout.
The concept is intriguing and interestingly explored and the scares are honestly earned. And that is really what works for the film. The blurred and shadowy figures, slipping in and out of Sydney’s vision, aren’t elaborate special effects and don’t have to do very much to provide the chills but work very well.
Overall, The Eye is a rather entertaining, reasonably scary remake of a very successful Asian horror film and isn’t totally stripped of the qualities of the original in its new incarnation. After the strong opening, it does enter a short lull before getting into the meat of the story and occasionally suffers from pacing issues that pull back on the flow, but it does entertain; it does thrill and should satisfy those looking for some above average scares.
The Video - :star::star::star::star: out of :star::star::star::star::star:
The original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 is preserved and enhanced for widescreen TV’s for its debut in our home theaters. The color palette, drained of most bright colors in favor of that cooler, blue/grey hue, is similar to many films of this nature and works just fine here for this tale. The ‘vision’ sequences and locations ventured to as part of the main characters explorations are the most visually exciting, color wise, and stand out against the cooler feel of the rest of the movie. The black levels are solid, forming deep contrasts during night scenes. It does seem to be a little too dark at times, however.
The image is wonderfully sharp, perhaps a little too sharp, but it does not suffer from any aggravating edge enhancement that I could see and the grain present is natural. I was recently called out for commenting that a film had an excess of ‘grain’. I was told, and rightly so, that “film grain is not our enemy”. Never a truer word was spoken, though the film in question had so much grain in a particular scene that did not mirror a previous experience in any medium that I had found, that I was compelled to call it out. I mention that to say that films like The Eye do not usually exhibit enough grain; not enough natural, inherent ‘texture’ that lets discerning eyes see that ‘true’ film quality in the image. Another thread commented that ‘Joe six pack’ will likely expect movies to look sharp like video games. A frightening prediction, one that has been coming true since the inception of DVD and the awful use of digital noise reduction (DNR) and Edge Enhancement, two perhaps well-intentioned but dangerous and abused technologies that mess with the image as we are supposed to see it and as the director and cinematographer originally intended for us to witness.
In summary, The Eye looks very good indeed for a standard DVD and any grain that you see is good – it is our friend! I can only imagine for now how good it will look on Hi-Definition media.
The Sound - :star::star::star::star: out of :star::star::star::star::star:
The Eye comes with bass-heavy Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround sound track. The sub-woofer is leaned on heavily to create a sense of foreboding in key scenes, with frequent activity in the surrounds doing its fair share of giving you chills. I think the reason I love scary movies so much is that, inevitably, there will be a stormy scene, with rolling thunder and the smack of a rainy downpour that will do wonders in the home theater and put me right there with the characters. The Eye has such a scene and it works.
Dialogue is cleanly reproduced with no distortions. Mostly likely a deliberate choice, but there is a softness to the center-channel and the dialogue, a reduction of all other ambient sounds to almost a hum at times which I think brings out the dialogue within the scene. It is subtle but seems to work.
All necessary creeks, whooshes and eerie whispers are effective as is the genuinely good score from Marco Beltrami, which is complete with violin screeches and hard stops to punctuate the ‘jumps’ at just the right moment.
The Extra's - :star::star::star: out of :star::star::star::star::star:
Deleted Scenes - (10:00+) – The 8 deleted scenes available here can be watched individually or with the ‘play all’ feature. Some are good, some pointless and one that was a little too much like The Grudge and was likely excised as a result. It just doesn’t fit with the film.
Birth of the Shadowman Featurette - (1:38) – This brief feature takes a look at Brett Haworth, who portrays the creepy Shadowman figure in The Eye, with his performance augmented by skip framing and blurring to give him an almost featureless presence.
Becoming Sydney Featurette - (4:48) – This extra contains interviews with Jessica Alba, one of the film’s producers and the violin instructor on the work that went into getting Jessica prepared for her role in the film.
Shadow World: Seeing the Dead Featurette - (8:31) – Dr. Larry Montz, a parapsychologist discusses the reality of the concept at play behind the strange happenings that the lead character endures following her surgery; talking about the science behind the concept. Interesting.
The Eye: The Explosive Grand Finale - (7:56) – This is a nice look at the design, planning and preparation for the film’s climactic action sequence.
Trailer – Trailers for Midnight Meat Train, Fearnet.Com, The Eye 2, Catacombs and The Descent.
Digital Copy of The Eye Feature Film
There are certainly better creepy films out there, but what The Eye offers that so many others forget to, is a central figure that is worth investing your time and interest in, and a story delivered with solid production values. Flaws and pitfalls aside, the film delivers on the creep-factor and intrigues just enough to make the payoff at the end satisfying – I might be alone in that thought, but for reasons stated, it worked well enough for me to enjoy.
There is, of course, plenty this film could have done to help redefine the direction of not only horror films, but the state of foreign language horror film remakes for Western audiences, but while it misses that boat in some places, it does create a solid and effective atmosphere and if nothing else, is most definitely worth renting.
Overall Score - :star::star::star: