Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Eye

If you've read any of my other reviews, you are already aware of my feelings towards remakes of Japanese (or this case Hong Kong) horror movies. The vast majority of them are just plain awful. I've just come to accept this, and not care in most instances (One Missed Call, and Pulse to name a few recent ones). The problem with The Eye, however, is that the original, Gin Gwai, was an extraordinary movie. I just cannot abide it when film makers take well done movies, and ruin them.

Jessica Alba follows up her last medical thriller (Awake) with this movie. This time, she is the patient. Alba stars as Sydney Wells, a blind violinist who is receiving an eye transplant to give her sight. She starts to go crazy when she begins to see what she thinks are the recently deceased. This leads her on a quest to convince others that she's actually seeing these things, and find the donor of her eyes. She enlists the help of Paul Falkner (Alessandro Nivola) a psychiatrist assigned to help her adjust to being able to see.

The original did a wonderful job of exploring the concept of being able to see for the first time. The star in that version was constantly doubting what she saw, and genuinely struggling with her vision. In the remake, however, it didn't take long for Alba to jump into screaming at other about how she's not crazy. I would expect at least some doubt.

One of the most powerful parts of the original involved her relationship with a little girl in the hospital with her. They form a bond and bring a real sense of humanity. This part is all but left out in the remake. Every bit of emotional drama is left out in favor of already dated and uninspired effects.

So what's lost in these remakes? A lot of them have to due with the traditional culture and mythology, and this is completely lost in an American setting. The significance of the stories is buried, and the movie is brought down to level of cheap horror. Deviating from the Eye for a minute, this did work for a few remakes. The Grudge was a success because not only was it set in Japan, it played right into the Japanese culture. I honestly think The Ring worked simply because it was the first of the genre. Film makers can't rely on this trend anymore, simply taking a Japanese movie and remaking it. There's still a huge crop of horror films to pick from. My picks for the next ones coming our way are either Premonition (not the Sandra Bullock film) or Infection. Hopefully they'll stay closer to the source.


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