The Eye

The Eye

'The Eye' is one of those films that there's been a lot of great advance word about, even our resident Asian genre expert Mike got my interest really going with his review of the Hong Kong DVD release…but I noted that this was a bare bones non anamorphic title and I knew our friends at Tartan were about to deliver their version, so I thought I'd wait…was it to be a worthwhile wait and would 'The Eye' meet my already growing expectations?

I'll try and keep things brief regarding the films scenario and background (Mike covered this in great detail in his own definitive review) but I will make mention of the basics of my own thoughts…basically, the film centers around a young blind woman who goes through retinal eye surgery to regain her sight. The operation is successful but not without some disturbing side effects…namely she now has the ability not only to see the ghosts of the dead but also the shadowy figures who come to collect them and take them on to…well who knows where! Now I reckon some pessimists out there are already grumbling 'Sixth Sense' comments under their breath but such blindness (pardon the pun) could not be so wrong.

'The Eye' is in fact one of the most genuinely chilling horror movies that I've watched in quite some time, in fact I would perhaps go as far to say that is also one of the best horror movies also. Why? Well it is a horror movie in the purest sense - for a long time now the basis for a good horror film has been wrongly interpreted as being one full of bloodshed and gore, 'The Eye' returns the essence of the horror movie to its original purest form...fear of what you're watching onscreen, returning to the true meaning of the word 'horror'. That's not to say that 'The Eye' doesn't contain some moments of graphic eye candy as on occasion it does but it welcomingly leans heavily on giving viewers a good old fashioned uncomfortable time. Perhaps foolishly at the time, I sat myself late at night with the lights off to watch 'The Eye' and have to confess that even this old jaded genre fan was given the major heebie jeebies - hence this is most definitely the recommended way to view this gem for maximum fear effect!

So why is 'The Eye' so damn good? Well you can probably lay reason at the feet of the very talented filmmaker duo of twins The Pang Brothers - they deliver a film that is well paced and builds up tension perfectly (the lift scene is a prime example of their class, pure adrenaline terror) and every now and again when you think you've got a handle on where the film is going they cleverly turn the plot to add some extra tension to the scenario (leading to a true suckerpunch exciting finale). Obviously good word must be made of the ensemble cast who all deliver sterling convincing performances but perhaps another small element that adds to the viewing tension is that the cunning bastards involved in this production sell you the film as being based on real events (more on this later) so from the word go your keyed up both for the expected movie frights but with the underlying thought that this could have actually happened. God forbid.

So yes, 'The Eye' is simply brilliant but what about this welcome DVD release from our pals at Tartan's Asia Extreme? Well let's look the film first - most welcomingly the print on show is an obvious leap in quality from the Hong Kong release, the widescreen image is presented in anamorphic widescreen and is sharp, pristine and colourful throughout with none of the problems that have been reported from the non anamorphic HK release. Sure the DTS audio option from the HK release is not present but we do get a vibrant and trouble free 2 channel stereo audio track that more than suffices. Accompanying this are nice clear optional English subtitles that present no problems either. So as far as the main feature goes it's a double thumbs up all round!

Now onto the extras…while the Hong Kong release was criticised for having no related extras included Tartan have come up trumps by adding a cool selection of film specific bonus features. First I better make mention of the lovely animated screens throughout before I move onto the three trailers for the movie, the first of which (the UK theatrical trailer) comes with optional voiceover which is a welcome bit of pampering (for a change), the other two are fun teaser trailers (one of which requests that you 'don't' visit the films website!) Of course there is the now standard (and hence expected) inclusion of various text based pages, this time they relate to filmographies for the Pang Brothers and the two lead cast members along with a Film Notes section by Justin Bowyer (who falls foul of making unjust comparison to a certain horror series by Hideo Nakata). There's also a brief promo stills gallery that pretty much compromises of five pages of Tartan Press material for the films theatrical release along with the Asia Extreme Trailer Reel (which has trailers for Dead or Alive 2, City of the Lost Souls, Bangkok Dangerous, Battle Royale and Ringu) all of which make for a welcome fun extra feature for perusing. But it is perhaps the final two extras that make this release that much more special; the first being the all too short (but excellent) 8 minutes documentary 'The Making of The Eye' where ( as I mentioned earlier) various folk are wheeled out to sell you on the true story aspect to the feature hence setting you up for a helluva spooky time. The second feature is again all too short (at 7 minutes) but very welcome as it continues on from the 'Making Of' short but with a lean towards the Pang Brothers comments on the films production. Both make for excellent viewing but be warned, do not under any circumstances watch the second documentary before you watch the main feature or else you will ruin a major finale spoiler…and we wouldn't want that would we now!

So not only do we get an excellent presentation of a truly scary movie but some worthwhile extra features also. This is one of the scariest films you'll see for some time - grab your partner, switch off the lights and prepare to be spooked. An ideal date movie, but who will be gripping onto who on the couch during some of the scarier moments? And one final note, when your watching this keep your eye out for a scene on a train, keep an eye on the window next to Mun's head….creepy!! Essential horror viewing - buy this now!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Tartan
Region All - PAL
Rated - 15 (uncut)
Ratio - anamorphic widescreen
Audio - 2.0 Thai, Cantonese (with optional English subtitles)
Extras :
Trailers, documentaries, filmographies and more