The Eye (Gin gwai) (2002)

Some things are better left unseen.
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The Eye - Some things are better left unseen

Gin gwai (or as it is more commonly known in this neck of the woods - The Eye) is a horror movie of the supernatural variety from the masters of horror the Pang brothers (Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang). Followed by three sequels (The Eye 2, The Eye 3 and The Child's Eye) and remade twice (India's Naina in 2005 and Hollywood's The Eye in 2008) makes you believe that this is a noteworthy contribution to Hong Kong horror... and it definitely is. The movie manages to take a common horror plotline and adds an element of mystery giving the viewer not only a thoroughly eerie experience plus a chance to show off their Poirot-like abilities. As is common in the Pang brother's movies the story does not rely on gore to shock the watcher but an intense build up to something that's gonna make them poop their pants. One of the real beauties of this movie is the subtle attention to detail and the "corner of the eye" scares which hit you a few seconds after the actual event when your brain has processed what it has just seen.

Classical violinist, Mun, has been blind since an early age and decides to undergo a corneal transplant to restore her sight. The operation goes well but having been blind for so long Mun does not realise that she is seeing more than that of the average person. She soon realises that she is seeing the Chinese Grim Reaper claiming the souls of the recently deceased. Assuming that this is not the norm she arranges to see the nephew of her doctor, a psychologist by the name of Dr Wah. At first he is reluctant to believe her crazy stories but Mun's conviction and the psychologist's "more than just a patient" feelings towards her encourage the two to seek out the eye donor.

The search for the original cornea owner leads the pair to Northern Thailand where they discover that the now dead and eyeless donor was a troubled female by the name of Ling. Ling was persecuted as a witch because of her ability to see death, the villagers believed that she was the cause of the death and made her life a living hell as they feared her ability.

Ling's mother is a depressed and angry woman (also of the verge of completely nuts) and is unable to forgive her daughters suicide as she supported her through all of the torment. For this reason Ling's soul is unable to rest and must re-live her death every night. Mun and Dr Wah convince Ling's mother to forgive her and the spirit is finally put to rest, but this does not relieve Mun of her extra-sight and she soon sees something that makes her crave blindness again.

The Eye is an engrossing movie for a number of reasons. The characters are well thought out with histories all relevant to the plot, from the terminally ill Yingying, a young girl who befriends Mun in the hospital, to the suicidal ghost of the boy with the lost report card, the subtle scares that haunt the outskirts of the movie (look out for the ghost in the train window) and the realisation of what Mun sees when she looks in the mirror.

Once again the Pang brother have created a truly terrifying slice of Asian horror.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies
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