Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is a blind classical violinist (We know she's blind because her eyes are cloudy; otherwise, I guess we'd assume she's just really inattentive.) who receives a corneal transplant to restore the vision she lost as a child when her sister, Helen (Parker Posey), "accidentally" shot a firecracker into her face. Soon after the surgery, though, Sydney begins to see shadowy figures. This isn't unusual, of course, since everything is shadowy to her, having just undergone a corneal transplant.
But these particular shadowy figures are different, ominous. The first one seems to lead the elderly woman in the hospital bed next to hers away one night. The next morning, Sydney finds out that the woman is dead. Even after her death, Sydney could swear that she sees the old lady, but then again, she's not sure of anything she sees because it's all so blurry. (To hammer this point home, we're treated to half an hour of footage shot with Vaseline smeared on the camera lens.)
Even when her vision clears, Sydney's visions don't cease -- not just the shadowy figures and the dead people, but also scenes from someone else's life: a stranger's room, flashbacks to another existence and FIRE! She has to convince her therapist, Paul (Alessandro Nivola), that she's not crazy (It helps that she's hot.) so he can help her track down the donor and solve the mystery of the haunted corneas.
The End Product
The Eye is one of the better Asian horror remakes -- not as good as The Ring and The Grudge but better than either of those film's sequels or the ghastly One Missed Call -- due in large part to the quality of the source material. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who last directed the French shocker Them, have obviously studied the original film, with several key scenes following it so closely you start to wonder if it's a shot-for-shot remake.
It's not, of course; the original has more emotional depth, delving into the difficulties the heroine faces regaining her eyesight and dealing more poignantly with the corneal donor's ties to her mother. The remake meanwhile commits typical Hollywood sins: forcing some "boo" scares (in part by making the shadowy "grim reaper" figures malicious for no good reason) and concocting a happy ending out of the melancholy original.
There are some nice elements to the remake, though. Even if the scares are cheap, they do make you jump more than once. Also, the bigger budget and slicker look help a couple of scenes that are otherwise mere copies of the Hong Kong film. One scene in particular involving a Chinese restaurant is altered to nice effect, showcasing a taste of originality that help save the movie from feeling pointless. Moreau and Palud do just enough to make sure The Eye never devolves into an episode of Ghost Whisperer.
Still, the American version struggles to overcome the stiff acting of Alba, who, in her voiceovers, sounds like a sixth-grader reading a book report. Posey, the best actress in the cast, is sorely underutilized; the story sets up a conflict between the sisters that never materializes. Why bother mentioning that Helen causes Sydney's blindness if nothing ever comes from it? Still, overall, The Eye remake manages to ride the original's coattails enough to make it as passable entertainment.
- Acting: C (Alba is uneven, and Posey is underused.)
- Direction: B- (Derivative but effective.)
- Script: C+ (Applied with a liberal Hollywood sheen.)
- Gore/Effects: B- (Not much gore -- PG-13 and all -- but the effects are nicely done and add to the scare factor.)
- Overall: B- (As far as Asian horror remakes go, it's about on par with Dark Water.)
The Eye is directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud and is rated PG-13 for violence/terror and disturbing content.