The Eye

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Starring Lee Sin-Je and Lawrence Chou. In Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, and English with English subtitles. Rated PG.

Considering the critical and commercial success of The Ring, Gore Verbinski's worthy remake of the Japanese haunted-video flick Ringu, it's no wonder Hollywood has set its sights on adapting more scary Asian fare. Now Tom Cruise's production company has bought the remake rights to The Eye, a horror film helmed by Hong Kong's Oxide and Danny Pang, makers of the stylish gangster pic Bangkok Dangerous. Here's hoping any involvement by Cruise reaps better rewards than his starring role in Vanilla Sky, 2001's preposterous Americanization of the Spanish thriller Open Your Eyes.

The unnerving tone of The Eye is established in the opening credits, with the imprint of exploring fingers scraped along behind a sheet of white latex. It's a common gimmick for fright flicks--even Freddy Krueger has stretched rubber for his own purposes--but in this case the visuals signal the desperate search about to be taken by main character Mun (Lee Sin-Je). Blind since the age of two, the young Hong Kong woman undergoes a cornea transplant, and--although the operation is deemed a success--spots eerie glimpses of dark, spectral figures as soon as the bandages come off. Before long, the sensitive Mun encounters more threatening, in-your-face apparitions--including a jealous ghost who lunges at her during a private calligraphy class--and begins to wonder if being sightless wasn't so bad after all. Now that she can see, the accomplished violinist even gets banned from performing with her all-blind orchestra.

When the freakiness escalates to the point where a depressed Mun sees another woman's reflection in the mirror, she and her smitten psychotherapist (Lawrence Chou) head to Thailand to try to uncover details of the cornea donor. That's when the story kicks into gear and becomes more than just a series of creepy undead visitations. The Eye rises above your standard cursed-body-part fare--like The Hand, for instance--by exploring predestination, alienation, and the redeeming power of forgiveness. Hopefully, if and when Cruise & Co. do a remake, it will be those underlying aspects they focus on, and not just the ghosts and the blowed-up-real-good ending.