I bring my series of posts about Asian horror films that were remade for the U.S. market in the 2000s to an end with a look at The Eye movies!
THE EYE (2002)
The Eye to me is like Exorcist III—one highly effective scary scene has earned it much more credit than it deserves. Yeah, I said it. The Eye is actually a rather generic film coming from the peak of the Asian horror craze.
While in the hospital for an eye transplant, a young woman makes friends with a child going through brain surgery.
After having her bandages removed, the main girl at first sees blurry images, including a creepy encounter with a mysterious female figure in the hospital hall at night. It’s an effective scene that includes a good jump scare.
She then goes to stay in an apartment building with her grandmother, where she has repeated run-ins with a little boy who always asks her if she has seen his report card.
When it comes down to it…she sees dead people. But her new sixth sense goes beyond that. For instance, I didn’t quite understand why she sees a ghost woman slowly and lustfully licking a piece of hanging meat in a restaurant. Was she starving in real life?
She has a total Ghost moment when she encounters a boy ghost right after he dies in an accident on the street. This is also when she discovers that a figure in black with a blurred face comes to take the dead spirits.
Then comes the elevator scene. Eek! It makes me think of that true story of the young woman who died in the water tower after doing weird shit on a security camera video on an elevator. In the movie, the main girl sees a man standing facing the corner…but not in the security monitor, only after she gets on the elevator! Instead of getting off the elevator sooner, she rides the damn thing fifteen stories up as he begins fucking floating towards her. As she rushes to her grandmother’s apartment, she sees the little report card kid getting ready to jump out a window, but she just keeps running.
She also happens to be a violinist, which isn’t focused on much in the original, but she does pass out at a recital, which lands her back in the hospital for a sad goodbye with the brain cancer child before the Grim Reaper appears.
Her therapist, who doesn’t quite believe she is seeing dead people, helps her find the mother of the girl she received her eyes from, and a whole new set of information is heaped on us. Bottom line is…the donor committed suicide. With the main girl pushed to the same state of despair, the mother helps her, which frees the dead girl’s soul.
On the drive home, something totally unexpected happens in this little ghost movie—a massive disaster scene! The main girl now has psychic powers (on top of seeing dead people and the Grim Reaper), so as as they are stuck in traffic, she knows there’s going to be a huge explosion. As she’s running down the road trying to warn people sitting in their cars, we are bombarded by flashbacks of the suicide girl’s past that reveal that she had psychic ability to predict tragedies, and when they came true, they would think she was evil.
THE EYE (2008)
The American remake spoon feeds us all the information that is sloppily dumped on us in huge chunks in the original, but that just manages to make this a chaotic mess of shrill shock scares that fall flat within minutes because they’re so overdone.
We are handed the suicide girl right at the beginning before we meet our main girl, played by Jessica Alba. Her career as a violinist gets more focus, including her therapist being a fellow musician.
A young Chloë Grace Moretz is the brain child in the hospital, and Parker Posey plays her sister, with the grandmother stay scrapped for this movie.
When Jessica sees the first scary lady in the hospital hall, the scene is a typical quick edit assault on the eyes and ears. Yawn.
The report card kid is around, but instead of the meat licker at the restaurant, we get some cranky white chick who even bitches to Jessica and gets all in her face. A fucking Karen ghost. Also, the dead kid in the accident on the street is swapped out for a woman.
The Grim Reaper is creepier and more ominous, and the scene saying goodbye to the brain child at the hospital is less poignant and played more for the horror and suspense of the Grim Reaper’s presence.
And of course there’s the elevator scene. It’s a bit more frenetic than the original instead of building the tension as much, but what I do like is that Jessica slams every damn button on that elevator in order to get off sooner. The creep in the corner looks a bit more gnarly gory than the creep in the original, but I wouldn’t choose to ride fifteen floors up with either of them. And once Jessica gets off the elevator, instead of ignoring the jumping report card boy, she actually runs to the window to try to stop him. Blah.
The major change throughout the film is an onslaught of nightmares Jessica has revealing the history of the previous owner of the eyes, along with a whole lot of warnings of fires and explosions. When she finally gets to the mother of her dead donor, the woman fricking has a heart attack and Jessica helps free the girl’s soul in a whole different way, which was a bit hokey to me.
And finally, the traffic jam explosion scene has minor changes but is just as massive as in the original.
THE EYE 2 (2004)
While the remake didn’t spawn any sequels, the original lived on. Moving forward, “the eye” just refers to the ability to see ghosts, with the concept of eye transplants thrown out the window.
In the sequel, a young woman is not in a good place and ends up trying to commit suicide. After overdosing on pills, she sees ghosts all around her bed before being rushed to the hospital.
Then it’s game on and ghosts galore—in a taxi, jumping in front of a subway, even in the reflection in her bathroom tiles. It’s familiar territory for anyone who’s been around Asian horror for a while.
Finally we get the twist. She’s pregnant, she doesn’t want it, and the ghosts are coming for it, which kind of makes her want it.
The most intriguing scene is when she is assaulted by a man on the street, something attacks him, she blacks out, and then the police tell her she attacked him in self-defense.
The most derivative scene? Long black ghost girl hair attack! Yawn. This time it’s on an elevator, and to make things a little more interesting, ghost girl wants to crawl into where babies come out.
THE EYE 3 (2005)
The Eye 3 continues the trend of having every film serve as its own subgenre of horror. This installment goes for a fun and funny teen horror comedy vibe!
The opening exorcism scene is a sign of things to come. It’s seemingly creepy at first, with a possessed girl levitating and groaning demonically, but then a circle of exorcists gets slapped one by one in the face with a big tongue.
Next we meet a group of friends. They read a book covering various rituals to communicate with the dead—which also happens to reference the “cases” of hauntings from the first two movies. Sneaky.
The kids do a ritual that involves drumming on bowls with chopsticks, and ghosts appear. Also, one of their friends disappears!
They spend the rest of the film being harassed by various ghosts as they try to find their friend. One girl is chased by a basketball. A guy has a dance-off in a hallway while running from ghosts after spoofing on the original film by having an encounter in the elevator and then an encounter with a kid looking for his report card.
There’s also a silly element about seeing ghosts by bending over and looking between your legs, and when the kids finally reach a ghostly dimension where they can rescue their friend, fart humor comes into play! This one definitely gets dumber as it progresses.
THE CHILD’S EYE (2010)
The series goes out with a child’s eye…and a dog’s eye! This one has more in common with the third film, but pulls back on the humor to focus more on the horror.
When social uprisings begin while pretty young people are on vacation, they end up stuck in a seedy hotel with a ghostly past.
This installment jumps the shark by bringing in a dog that can see ghosts (can’t they all?). When the guys in the group of friends go missing, this pup helps the girls unravel a supernatural mystery involving a man believed to have killed his pregnant wife’s dog, after which the wife disappeared. Uh-oh.
This was originally a 3D film, which probably worked well with the less intense nature of this installment (it’s definitely a popcorn an cherry cola film), so there are some cheesy moments where hands, bugs, and other things sort of just float in front of the camera.
There’s some possession action, a scary ghost woman, and another dimension as in The Eye 3.
The best part for me was this freaky half-dog/half-child thing that runs around terrorizing the girls. Eek!