Friday, 3 April 2015

April Apparitions: The Eye (aka Gin Gwai) (2002)

The Eye (aka Gin Gwai) (2002)
Director: Oxide Pang Chun, and Danny Pang
Starring: Angelica Lee, Chutcha Rujinanon, and Lawrence Chou
Running Time: 94 min

  I've been meaning to see this for a while and have heard a lot of great things about this over the years.  Not only has it spawned two sequels, "The Eye 2" and the "Eye 10" but it has been remade internationally in three countries, including the 2008 Jessica Alba film of the same name and one made in India called Naina, which would be really interesting to see.  Also, this is a Pang brothers film, which I'm embarrassed to say I've only seen 2 other films by them, "Bangkok Dangerous", which I really enjoyed and the remake with Nick Cage, which is a remake with Nick Cage.  So, I'm looking forward to catching up on their film collection with one of their most touted films, "The Eye".

  Mun is a young blind violinist, who is having an operation to replace her cornea, so she will finally be able to see again.  At the hospital before the operation, she makes a new friend, Yingying, a little girl who has had countless operations to have the tumors in her head removed.  Yingying promises to take Mun outside to see the world once her operation is successful and Mun agrees.  After the operation, Dr. Lo takes of the bandages and although blurry, the operation is a success!  She can just see shapes and Dr. Lo suggests that she stay in the hospital for a little while, so she can get used to her eyes.
  Now that she can kind of see, her and Yingying take some pictures of themselves and everything is awesome!  Until.... one night, Mun wakes up to see a shadowy figure escorting an elderly patient from the room.  Mun follows them but the two figures disappear.  The next morning, Mun finds out the the elderly patient passed away that night, which is kind of weird and creepy because she just saw with her own two new eyes her leave with that dark and shadowy figure.  Anyway no time to worry about dead old ladies, Mun's sister has come to pick her up at the hospital.  Even though the Dr. Lo would prefer her to stay and recuperate, but Mun's sister is leaving the area for work and she needs her recovering sister to watch their aging grandmother.  On the way back home, they swing by Mun's mandated psychologist, Dr. Lo, yes they are related, for her first appointment.  This Dr. Lo tells her that many patients who have gone through similar surgeries sometimes have a hard time adjusting psychologically and he will help her with that.  Mun doesn't mind, because this Dr. Lo is young and handsome and she thinks that he likes her too. Awwww...
  Back at home, Mun starts seeing some weird things and people, like a boy who keeps asking about his report card, a man in the elevator with a bashed head and a woman at an outdoor restaurant trying to lick the food cart window with an unusually large tongue.  She soon finds out that these are ghosts, after a husky ghost child runs through her after he is hit by a car.  Confused and scared, she asks the young Dr. Lo if this is normal and he suggests that she sees a psychiatrist but he still wants to help her.  However, everything come to a head, when she goes to the hospital to visit Yingying but sadly is just in time to say goodbye and see her spirit being taken by the shadowy figure.  At the funeral, she is given a picture that her and Yingying took together but is confused to see the girl  who is beside Yingying.  Dr. Lo laughs and tells her that it's her.  Then he asks if she doesn't know what she looks like?  Apparently not because when she looks in the mirror it's a totally different person!  Now Mun, with the help of Dr. Lo must find out whose corneas these belonged to, find out what happened to them and why she is seeing ghosts all the time!

  I really dug this, the film had a good flow to it and thrilling ending to it.  This is a really low key ghost movie and has a bit of a slow burn feel to it.  I like how the Pang brothers don't waste very much time getting to the ghost portion of the film and slowly unravel the mystery concerning her eyes.  However, for every question that gets answered, more and more questions pop up and you're not really sure where the story is going to end up. 
  Also, The ghosts look awesome and can be very creepy at times.  I love when the Mun character is standing alone in the elevator and she knows the ghost hovering behind her, getting closer and closer but she is too scared to turn around. It sent shivers down my spine.
  Again, the ending of the film is awesome and it ties the story together really well.  The Pang brothers build and build the tension and then it finally just explodes on screen, laying all your fears to waste.  The carnage afterwards looks incredible visually and devastating emotionally and it's not a scene that will be soon forgotten.

  Although there are some very creepy ghosts in this, not all of the ghosts are terrifying, which can be seen as good or bad.  Most of the specters in this are searching for things and cannot escape for one reason or another a way from this plain of existence and although it gives off a tremendous creepy vibe at times, I wouldn't say that it is scary, per se or like interesting.  Even the tie up before, the big ending is more dramatic than it is horrifying but it is still enjoyable to watch.  It's a weird balance that some viewers may not expecting or wanting in their horror movie. This isn't a hack and slash kind of ghost flick.
  Also, like I mention before the pacing is a bit slow and it seems dip into areas that that either don't push the ghost factor of the film or tie up in the end.  Like, they touch on Muna's musical career and how it changed since she is no longer blind, which is interesting but doesn't seem as pertinent to the overall ghost story.  In spite of that,  it does round the character and shows that even when you get what you want, you may have to lose other things.  As well as, the odd relationship with Muna's family or how she became blind seems to be brushed over as well.  However, this is the 94 minute DVD version, and after watching this I found out there is a 99 minute version and a 110 minute version of the film which have been released.  Maybe in those versions of the film, these loose ends may get tied up better. 

 With that said,  those are just minor flaws to a really cool ghost story.  The film has a lot of heart to it, which is rare in the horror genre and although the story takes its time, allowing the suspense to build and meandering a bit, it does have an fantastic climax at the end.  So, if you are looking for to ghost story that will raise the hair on the back of yer neck, then set your peepers on this one and let the shivers descend. 

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