Eye, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe prays that his eyes just saw their last Hollywood Asian horror remake...
Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) has been blind since a childhood accident, but she gets by in life, dependant on her enhanced other senses. After undergoing experimental replacement surgery to restore her sight she begins the arduous process of learning to see again, but soon unexplainable shadowy and frightening images and figures begin to haunt her. Are these ‘ghosts’ for real, or a side effect of her experimental surgery?
Is it all right if we call and end to the whole Asian horror remake process now? Are there any movies in this never ending tradition, besides Gore Verbinski’s Ring remake, that anyone even likes? Has anything beyond The Ring made any money? Why won’t they stop? The Grudge 2 has a 12% on rottentomatoes.com and made nothing. One Missed Call has a 0% on rottentomatoes.com and made bupkiss. The Eye has a 21% on rottentomatoes.com and made skidoo. Are we done here?
And can we call for an end to Jessica Alba’s A-list career, or at least avoid ever giving her anything dramatic to do ever again? Maybe just some more R-rated romantic comedies? No matter how much the movie sucked, Good Luck Chuck is the only thing I’ve seen her in that didn’t make me sick. At the very least let’s make a point of not giving her any more narration. For this film to work it requires two simple things—an effective handful of scares, and an affecting lead performance, especially considering that we’re literally stuck watching the story unfold through this character’s eyes. Alba doesn’t cut the bacon for the first requirement; the little cancer ridden no-name girl mops the floor with her.
I never saw all of the Pang Brother’s original film, so I don’t have much of a frame of reference as far as comparing the two films. Anyone who’s ever read any of my dozens of Tartan Asia Extreme Asian horror reviews knows that the genre fatigues me in its general repetition. The Eye was likely a sort of original product when it was released, but after eight years of the same old thing I see zero reason to remake it. This movie doesn’t just steal the basic repetition of Asian ghost stories, it also prays at the altar of boring and repetitious modern melodrama, and lacks even an ineffective sense of humour.
The Eye doesn’t really have a plot, it’s really just a series of events and set pieces tied loosely to Alba’s eye transplant. It takes the story forty minutes to fully acknowledge the fact that she’s seeing the dead people and not just scary things, and it’s apparently supposed to come as a surprise to the audience. Then it takes the characters another frustrating eternity to figure it out (and for a psychiatrist this guy certainly berates his supposedly mentally ill patient a lot). If you’ve seen a single post- Ring Asian horror film, The Sixth Sense or Mothman Prophecies, or you’re a regular viewer of The Dead Zone TV series, you’re going to see every scare and ‘twist’ coming before you even stick the disc in the player, including the supposedly ‘explosive’ climax.
The Eye is one of these Blu-yay discs that don’t stand out as much better than the DVD release (I was sent both in this case), at least not on a 42-inch screen. The details are ever so slightly sharper (sharp enough to notice that the buildings outside Sydney’s window are a matte painting), and the hues are a bit brighter. The big difference is the Blu-ray release’s near lack of compression noise around edges and in darker scenes. So much of the film is placed in darkness or seen through Alba’s blurry eyeballs that sharp details don’t really come into play too often. The directors and DP have opted for a very soft look as well. The few full sunlight sequences (mostly during the final act), and the occasional bright colours look pretty good and even. There’s still a bit of noise in the super-shadowy scenes, and high contrast areas strobe a bit. If you have a Blu-ray player you should of course go with the Blu-ray release, but I don’t think DVD fans should feel too bad about this one.
My system downgrades these 7.1 DTS Master Audio tracks to standard DTS 5.1. Anyway, this (slightly downgraded) DTS track does its very best to frighten you with a semi-effective mix of subtle and not so subtle effects. The rear channels are particularly lively with rather abstract noises and ‘score’. There really isn’t a quiet moment in the film, and everything is quite clean and clear. The music is your usual mix of splashes and throbs, augmented with a touch of crawling strings and punchy French horns.
If you were a fan of the film or Alba and plan on buying the DVD I suggest saving your money and buying the extraless release. The second disc in both the Blu-ray and special edition release is made up solely of the Digital Copy version of the film. The extras here are minimal to say the least.
Things start with four short featurettes. ‘Birth of the Shadow Man’ is a very brief, one and a half minute behind the scenes look at the physical creation of the death character that spooks Sydney throughout the film. Some poor sap was stripped naked and covered head to toe with make-up, but the final character in the film looks 100% CG. I assumed it was entirely created in the computer. ‘Becoming Sydney’ is four and a half minute look at the violin and blindness lessons Alba went through for the film. ‘Shadow World’, the longest and entertaining featurette at eight minutes, covers the slightly soggy science of cellular memory and the real life situations that inspired the film. The featurettes end with ‘An Explosive Finale’, a six-minute on set record of the film’s climax.
There are eight deleted scenes, each presented in non-anamorphic widescreen with temp on set sound, and with markers and time signatures. The first and third scenes were probably have been deleted for ratings reasons, because like all Asian horror remakes The Eye is rated PG-13. Scene three involves Alba literally tearing her eyes out in a dream sequence. The other six scenes are made up of basically unneeded character information and a few extra scares that aren’t very scary. The trailer is more frightening and entertaining then the film, but features a lot of spoilers, including a shot of Sydney’s final fate.
I was honestly more fascinated by Sydney’s brail printer and he speaking alarm clock then any of the characters or the ‘plot’. The Eye plays like a twenty-minute short subject, and lacks the set pieces and character moments to stretch the run time with any satisfaction. Even if you’re new to Asian horror remakes, there’s no way any of this tale will come as a surprise to you, and the weak acting and absent scares don’t help. The Blu-ray release is light on extras and the A/V quality is a bit disappointing, on top of everything else.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 3rd June 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master 7.1 English, Dolby Digital EX 5.1 French
Subtitles: English HoH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Cast: Jessica Alba, Obba Babatunde, Danny Mora, Rade Serbedzija, Rachel Ticotin, Parker Posey
Length: 97 minutes
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