Directed by David Moreau, Xavier Palud. Starring Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija. (2008, PG-13, 97 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 8, 2008
Note to Hollywood: For the love of Nobuo Nakagawa, knock it off already with the abysmal remakes of superior Asian horror films! You're killing me, and I'm going straight to Jigoku. Do you realize how many times I have to sit myself down with a DVD of Kaidan, Onibaba, Kairo, or A Tale of Two Sisters to cleanse my cinematic soul after watching yet another professionally produced yet tonally soulless and culturally confused Yankee Doodle do-over? Many, many times, I tell you. It took me three straight viewings of Fruit Chan's feature-length Dumplings – alongside a double shot of Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare and Anno Hideaki's bubblegum gun-babe epic Cutie Honey – to cauterize the open wound in my mind left by the recent Wes Craven-scripted Nightmare on Dumb Street remake (aka Pulse) of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's aforementioned masterwork, Kairo. Already this year we've seen a bad Takashi Miike film made worse (One Missed Call), and now the directing duo behind the French shocker Them has been given free rein to tarnish Thailand-based directors Danny and Oxide Pang's 2002 spookfest. Problems begin immediately as Alba's stiff acting isn't nearly as emotionally affecting as the original film's sublime Lee Sin-Je. Alba plays concert violinist Sydney Wells, who, having been sightless since the age of 5 after a tragic, Parker Posey-induced fireworks mishap, undergoes a corneal transplant that leaves her with the ability to see the dead, who are everywhere (but not Haley Joel Osment, who is nowhere and presumed post-pubescent). As an added bonus, Posey, as Sydney's guilt-ridden sister, Helen, appears briefly and manages to be both fey and grim without the benefit of Hal Hartley. Ghosts, like the poor, are always with us, as Sydney soon discovers via her new, blurry vision, but only one notable set-piece from the Pang Brothers' film succeeds as well here. Most unforgivably, this Eye culminates not with the mounting dread and spectacular tragedy of the original film's decidedly downbeat vision but with the trademark LASIK laziness of Hollywood's stylistically blank remake factory. It blinks, but you'll never miss it.