In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Eye Review

You’ll have to indulge me here while I reflect on the original Chinese version, before getting to my thoughts on the remake. The Eye is probably my favourite Asian horror title, so the prospect of it being remade never filled me with happiness.

There are two things that, for me, make The Eye stand above the rest. First, are the scare set pieces. Every Asian horror film has them; of course, it is their main strength. The Eye has three major ones that are among the best out there. Ju-on (The Grudge) wins when it comes to quantity of scares, yes, but not in quality, which leads me to my second point. While Ju-on is basically vignettes strung together with a thin story, The Eye’s narrative is first and foremost and the scares come within that framework.

So, sitting down to watch The Eye remake, it was very important to me that they got those three scares right. Did they? I think so, yes. One of them was as good and the other two were close enough. There were also some elements – and this is probably the most surprising thing about the remake – that were actually superior. There was some condensing that served the story very well, a lot more than it did The Grudge remake (which I thought took away from that film’s effectiveness) and changes made to a scene in a Chinese restaurant played better, as well. The climax has been tweaked – probably to avoid similarities to an American film that the original is often compared to – and it works just as well. The new incarnation even adds an extra angle to it.

Yep. I'm still hot.

I don’t know if I can give the remake a full endorsement, just because when it comes to Asian horror, I will ALWAYS say ‘see the original first’, even when they are dull (Pulse) or derivative (One Missed Call), but The Eye is at the top of the successful attempts. I’d say that overall, The Ring is still king, but only for being more cinematic. Alas, even that had a lot of steam taken out of it by its terrible sequel. Anyway, The Eye was much better than I was expecting, and that in itself is reason for praise I guess. It stuck close to its predecessor when it was important and in some cases eradicated small problems I had with the original. I didn’t realize this until I was fact checking, but the directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud were responsible for one of my current favourite horror films, the French thriller Ils (Them). Well, shit! If I’d known that going in, I wouldn’t have been so skeptical.

On a related note, before The Eye I saw a trailer for the upcoming remake of the Thai horror film Shutter. It looks like this version is concentrating more on the spirit photography phenomenon rather than the story of the original, but I could be wrong. I do know that seeing Josh Jackson in it didn’t instill me with confidence. Oh well, spectral fingers crossed!

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