Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Eye (2002)

“The world is beautiful!”
Probably the best thing about being partially deaf is that, unlike most people, I have absolutely no problem with watching subtitled foreign films. My girlfriend falls into the category of “most people” however, so I’m watching this while she does other stuff. Thing is, though, I don’t really get scared by the supernatural in horror films; I don’t believe in it, and that’s that. But it’s deeper than that, really; I never “suspend my disbelief” when watching screen drama, always seeing as something that has been written, designed and shot. I just don’t get scared by anything in fiction, and that is that. Odd, I suppose, that I can still be moved emotionally by it, but let us not go off on too many tangents.

The Eye, being Hong Kong horror, is not from a genre of which I am hugely familiar. It’s good stuff- pacey, strong on character, and stylishly shot, however. The central conceit- a blind woman has her sight restored, but the eyes are donated by a deeply troubled woman cursed by second sight who had committed suicide- is ingeniously horrifying on a very basic level, and the main twist (I won’t spoil, but it involves a photograph) is brilliant. This film does more than just scares, though; the scenes with Ying Ying, a little girl undergoing chemotherapy, are heartbreaking. There are some nice dramatic moments (the early scenes evoke Bill Masen’s bandages being removed in Day of the Triffids), and the conclusion is extremely neat and satisfying.

One little side observation: we native English speakers are lucky to have such a lingua franca as our tongue. This film includes scenes in which two Cantonese speakers talk to a Thai nurse in English, the language of a small island halfway round the world.

This is an excellent film- scary, affecting, superbly shot and with some highly satisfying plot developments. The early part of the film is a little slow, perhaps, but the payoff is worth it. One word of caution, though: beware of a huge spoiler in the film’s tag line

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