Blockbuster Video was still open on the High Street when this film first came out on DVD. I can remember seeing it on the shelf in the new releases section, and wanting to hire it out. Having a partner who hates horror films is quite unfortunate. So I never did. And I must admit, I thought it would probably end up being one of those awful and cheap horror films anyway, one that you wished you’d not wasted an hour an a half of your life to watch.
I found it on Now TV last week and thought it would make do whilst doing the ironing. Something that did intrigue me about The Eye is that it’s based on an original Japanese version. I love Japanese horror movies, and I hoped that the film would retain some of the essence of the original.
The Eye tells the story of Sydney Wells. She is a concert violinist and has been blind since a childhood firecracker accident blinded her. In spite of this, Sydney is a happy, confident woman, not held back by her disability. She is, in fact, improved by it in some way.
At the beginning of the film Sydney gets a double corneal transplant, the thing that will make her already practically perfect life, complete. Supposedly.
The film is quite eerie from the start, and when Sydney first opens her eyes and everything is blurry, she sees a dark figure standing in the corner in the doctor’s clinic; a figure that’s certainly not meant to be there. She sees it again at night, when she’s trying to sleep in the hospital. It seems to be leading away one of the other patients, and come the morning, that patient has passed away.
So for a while we see things from Sydney’s viewpoint, and there’s a real claustrophobia to this part of the film, a claustrophobia that doesn’t really let go until the final scenes.
What struck me about this film, and something I think the director did very well, was the way he portrayed Sydney’s increasing vulnerability as her sight recovers. Wouldn’t we all imagine that getting one’s sight back would be such a gift? Instead we watch a confident and independent blind woman quite quickly turn into a vulnerable, needy and paranoid sighted one, with so many new things to learn and unlearn. I found myself regretting on her behalf ever having the corneal transplant in the first place.
Sydney is seeing things; having visions, and no-one seems to believe her. And when she looks in the mirror, she seems to be suffering a real case of mirrored-self misidentification. She doesn’t recognise the woman staring back at her. And so, on top of everything else, it seems she might also be losing her mind. But they are more than visions. She can enter into what seems like another world, where violence can be inflicted upon her. And she is seeing dead people. Sydney looks for answers, and she begins with trying to track down the person who donated their corneas to her in the first place.
I don’t want to give anything away, as there will still be many people who haven’t seen this film. This film didn’t have the best reviews online, but I like it. I like it because it hasn’t been overly sanitised by Hollywood. And I like it because it is evidently heavily influenced by the original Japanese version, and in fact still gives a very big nod to the film that inspired it, and does so respectfully.