The Eye

on February 01, 2008 by Christine James
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aMisleadingly titled, this Hong Kong-set paranormal pulse-racer by the Pang Brothers (“Bangkok Dangerous”) is about visions rather than the ocular organ, which will be a relief to those who concluded this was a horror flick and squeamishly evoked the indelible imagery of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel's 1928 short film “Un Chien Andalou.”

In truth, eyeballs do come into the plot--but off-camera, thankfully. After a stylish “Repulsion”-esque credit sequence, the film opens with a young woman, Mun (Lee Sin-Je), blind since the age of two, recuperating from surgery to replace her retinas. As she slowly adjusts to her regained sight, she blurrily glimpses strange shadows roaming among the hospital beds of her fellow patients, but at this early stage of her recovery she can't discern if anything is amiss. As her focus improves, however, a series of more pointed encounters leaves Mun alarmingly certain that she is seeing people and things that shouldn't be there. She turns to her psychotherapist, Dr. Wah (Lawrence Chou), but he's only prepared to help her transition to the world of the sighted, not of the second-sighted. Mun tries to resume her normal life, but she's even denied her one passion, musical performance, when she's unceremoniously kicked out of her orchestra for the blind as she no longer has the requisite disability. Feeling utterly alone, she becomes unnerved as she realizes she can't go anywhere without facing a number of disturbing wraiths. Dr. Wah, motivated by an affection transcending the doctor-patient relationship, risks his reputation to help Mun discover the reason behind her supernatural perceptions.

The Pang Brothers have brought to life--so to speak--some of cinema's spookiest specters, particularly the corner-facing cadaver in the world's slowest, clatteringest elevator. The materialization of a mother and child in another scene is stunningly scary, though her malevolence is a bit of a mystery.

Tension builds as the twists artfully unfurl to a cataclysmic climax. Though mythology and motivation might not withstand excessive scrutiny, this film is an intelligent, creepy thrill and the Pang Bros. are most assuredly filmmakers to keep an “Eye” on. Starring Lee Sin-Je, Lawrence Chou and Chutcha Rujinanon. Directed by Oxide Pang and Danny Pang. Written by Jojo Hui, Oxide Pang and Danny Pang. Produced by Laurence Cheng and Peter Ho-Sun Chan. A Palm release. Supernatural drama/thriller. Cantonese-, Mandarin-, Thai- and English-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 98 min

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