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Movie Review

The Eye

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence/terror and disturbing content

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Horror, Supernatural Thriller, Drama, Remake
Length:
1 hr. 37 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
February 1, 2008 (wide—2,200 theaters)
DVD: June 3, 2008
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Jessica Alba, Parker Posey, Alessandro Nivola, Rachel Ticotin, Rade Serbedzija, Chloe Moretz, Tamlyn Tomita, Aaron Paul, Tegan Moss, Kathleen LaGue, François Chau, Girard Swan, Kisha Sierra, [more]
Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Producer: Sarah E. Baker, Peter Block, Peter Chan, Doug Davison, Mike Elliott, Don Granger, Roy Lee, Michelle Manning, Darren Miller, Darren Miller, Jack L. Murray, Michael Paseornek, Paula Wagner
Distributor: Lions Gate Films

“How can you believe your eyes when they’re not yours?”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is an accomplished, independent, Los Angeles-based concert violinist. She is also blind, and has been so since a childhood tragedy. As our story opens, Sydney undergoes a double corneal transplant, a surgery she has waited her whole life to have, and her sight is restored. After the surgery, neural ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola) helps Sydney with the difficult adjustment, and with the support of her older sister Helen (Parker Posey), Sydney learns to see again.

But Sydney's happiness is short-lived as unexplainable shadowy and frightening images start to haunt her. Are they a passing aftermath of her surgery, Sydney's mind adjusting to sight, a product of her imagination, or something horrifyingly real? As Sydney's family and friends begin to doubt her sanity, Sydney is soon convinced that her anonymous eye donor has somehow opened the door to a terrifying world only she can now see.”

“The Eye” is the most recent in a line of Asian horror remakes. The original Eye is the biggest horror hit ever to come out of Hong Kong and has actually been remade previously in India (skip that one). The new Eye stars Jessica Alba and is, of course, set in America as well as a sidetrip to Mexico.

Now some will immediately scoff at yet another Asian horror remake, and except for “The Ring” and “The Grudge,” most of the J-horror remakes have not endeared themselves to fans. Of course, horror movies usually cater to a specific target audience anyway, so this has not been particularly harmful to the seemingly new genre of horror. In fact, “The Eye” is probably the best since “The Grudge” despite some obvious flaws. Indeed, the very reason that most secular critics despite the Eye is the reason that it had some appeal to me. My local newspaper decried the fact that the Eye had little violence or terror (although ample enough to warrant a PG-13 rating). For the Christian, this may be a good sign, but don't be fooled. It deserves is PG-13 rating and there is plenty of violence and horror for those not used to the slasher genre or Quinten Tarantino films.

The story is about a blind woman who receives corneal transplant to regain her sight. Her new eyes, however, have a strange side effect; they can see the spiritual world. They can see dead people. Yes, “The Eye” was an Asian spin off of M. Night Shayamalan's “Sixth Sense,” but it was original in its presentation. Perhaps in anticipation of critics who would scoff at the similarity to the Sixth Sense there is a scene in the movie in which Alba is mocked for seeing “dead people.” If you can get past this similarity the film is fairly effective. As the film progresses Alba wants to find out to whom her eyes originally belonged. Even when she looks in the mirror she sees not her own face, but the face of the original owner. What happened to her and why is she seeing these horrifying things?

“The Eye” follows the original Hong Kong movie closely with one noticeable difference. The ending of the movie was subtly changed, but that change brought a certain hope and purpose to the film which was lacking in the original. I will not give a spoiler here, except to say that the ending is a little more upbeat and suggest that there is a purpose for what happened to her.

Now purpose aside, the film is clearly eastern in mysticism. There is talk of spirits who are “unable to find rest.” This is a concept directly at odds with the Bible where it is declared that “it is appointed for man to die once, and then comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Spirits do not wander nor get lost. The angels of death in this film are also far different from any Biblical conception and are fearsome and “angry” creatures. The entire premise of the film is, therefore, pagan and at odds with the Biblical worldview. Christianity is absent from the film, although witchcraft and psychic abilities are very evident.

In terms of moral content, “The Eye” was remarkably free from foul language. There were a few exclamations of God, but no foul words that I heard (I may occasionally miss a few) and no sex. Some revealing outfits were apparent throughout the course of the film but no nudity, although in one scene where the rough outline of a woman can be seen through a foggy shower stall. Violence was the reason for the PG-13 rating. The film open with a suicide. We see scenes of people on fire, burned and charred faces, bloody eyes are seen in dream sequences, there is even a glimpse of a man whose face has been ripped off, and a woman is seen thrashing about after hanging herself. The violence is, therefore, entirely inappropriate for any youngsters or children.

Ultimately, “The Eye” will appeal to fans of the J-horror genre. If you have not seen the original Eye, then this film will probably appeal to you even more. In some respects it is inferior to the original, but some ways they improved it. If you are looking for a shock a minute slasher film then stay away, but if you are looking for a moody tense horror film in the J-horror style, then “The Eye” is certainly one of the better remakes, but keep young children and impressionable youngsters away as the film is still pagan and violent.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Well, first off I'd like to say that after reading the review here I was skeptical of seeing “The Eye” because of the way they described the violence at the end, but after seeing the movie I couldn't figure out why they put it in such graphic terms. This film is very well done with some great jumps scenes (nothing that is going to really scare you). The photography was great as well as setting the mood of the film, and, truthfully, I saw little or no resemblance to “The Sixth Sense,” other than she could see dead people. The violence in this film is so mild that it really surprised me. The movie really relies on jump scenes for the scares, and, best of all, you don't usually expect them.

Well, to wrap it up, overall the violence was very mild and the language, well there really wasn't any. The Lord's name was used in vain like 2 or 3 times. As far as sexual content, the worse that we get is a view if Jessica Alba in the shower from outside the glass (the kind that makes everything a blur) and her body becomes sharper as she comes to the door of the shower (but nothing explicit can be seen, however you do get a very good view of the shape of her body). but that was about it. In conclusion, this was a great film, little violence and anything else that would be offensive (other than the fact that it has to do with ghosts and such). If you want a a fun thriller this is it, and it is nothing more than a thriller.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John Smith, age 32
Neutral
Neutral—I went with a cousin of mine whose wife wanted to see it, and it was a little better than I expected. It didn't have a lot of scary scenes, just a few. Jessica Alba does a great job, and so did Parker Posey as her sister. It was really done well, and the music matched the movie's dark tone. It felt a little weak towards the end. I would recommend it for someone who likes scary movies, but it does contain one shot of nudity and has minimal bad words though. Be warned.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Christopher Walker, age 27
Negative
Negative—I was sitting in the theater beside a young male Asian who evidently haven't seen the original Hong Kong-Thai “The Eye.” He was jumping in all the right places, but to me it was over redundant. The opening scene was so far off, that I thought I was watching the wrong movie. In the original film, what the Pang Brothers did was ingenuous for the opening sequence. Against a white wall, from behind it, we see shadows touching the wall like fingers swirling across the screen and the music intensify our sense of horror that is to come. Angelica Lee who played Mun, the young woman who received the corneal transplant, with subtle expressive nuisances is tough to be out done by Jessica Alba. Alba is pretty, but her acting is far from impressive. Her Sydney Wells is not well at all. Alba was not once believed to have been blind and the people around her were never really fleshed out, even the wonderful Parker Posey and Alessandro Nivola were left with very little to do. Posey was perfect for her role of the sister. Then there's the doctor, which I thought Nivola was a good cast verses the original, Lawrence Chou, was too young and out of place, but unfortunately, here, the doctor relegated to a walking cliche. It didn't help that his character was annoying when the change of heart came along, what gives?

Although the remake follows close to the original once the film picks up the story, but an atrocious, choppy, and incoherent remake. The whole film seemed rush and the editors placed too many jump scenes because it looked like they need to fill in the blank for some reason. In the original, we are attached to almost all of the characters, both major and minor, including the the dead donor and her mother. Here, we learn very little of them,and the mother came just another filler, again. One supporting character was Alicia Milstone, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, the dying cancer child who saw the beauty in life was limited and really didn't come across as strong as the fleshed out original played by Yut Lai So as Yingying. However, some of the changes were a plus. The twist with the dead child in the hallway was a surprise, and the ending was on a different note, which served a purpose.

Eastern spirituality was sprinkled throughout the original with incense burning and prayers, and the dark spirits that took the dead away are all within the realm of the Asian belief system. In translating this over, it's lost in translation. The dark spirits have no meaning, except that they are angry entities, transporting the dead over to the other side. There were no prevalent form of any kind of religious establishment in helping to understand the curse of the donor. A church was shown and witch were mentioned, but held no ground for the plot. We just have to take it at face value. It's funny how the two films played differently in it's respective culture. In the original, the conflict of interest were limited because, the Asians are more susceptible to superstitions and willingly support our protagonist, while in the remake, our hero have lots of friends and family pulling for her, but in the end, she was the one who must convince at least one of them that she was not crazy. Yes, there is an Indian remake called, “Naina” in 2005, but I have not seen that one to make a comparison.

Overall, “The Eye” 2008 remake tried but failed, just like the many other Asian horror crossing over to the American market. With the internet, we should have passed the boundary of strangers and accept the culture of another and keeps the original content.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Mang Yang, age 35
Comments from young people
Positive—Oh my goodness, this film was probably one of the cleanest horror films I have ever seen! …there was NO language; it didn't even say the Lord's name in vain, so whoever is saying that it does, it doesn't! …there is no romance or anything like that, nobody even kisses, so if you saying that the sex/nudity is moderate, how can you there isn't any, if you are referring to the part where she is in the shower it really doesn't show anything! It is quite a bit scary though! But, see it, it's very good and clean!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kaitlin, age 12
Positive—This was definitely a clean horror film. It was full of suspense, no nudity, no bad language, and nothing gory. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves being freaked out and put on the edge of their seat. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jordan, age 15