Sydney Wells is a successful classical violinist from Los Angeles who has been blind since she was five years old, caused by an accident with firecrackers. Fifteen years later, after celebrating conductor and pianist Simon McCullough's birthday during rehearsal, Sydney undergoes a cornea transplant, which causes her eyesight to return, a bit blurry at first. As time goes on, Sydney's vision begins to clear; however, she also begins experiencing terrifying visions, mostly of fire and of people dying. She also sees people that are already dead, on one occasion when a girl passes right through her. Sydney attempts to unravel the mystery of the visions, and also to convince others, primarily her visual therapist and fellow violinist, Paul Faulkner, who helps her in her quest. She knows that she is not going insane.
Accompanied by Paul, Sydney travels to Mexico, where the cornea donor Ana Cristina Martinez was originally from. She discovers from Ana's mother that the images of fire and death are the result of an industrial accident that Ana foretold. Ana hanged herself because she was unable to stop the accident. Sydney forgives Ana's spirit, who leaves in peace. As Sydney and Paul begin their journey home, they are caught in a traffic congestion caused by a police chase on the other side of the border. Sydney sees the little girl from her vision in the car next to her. She then realizes that this is what her vision has been all along, to save the people that are about to die from an accident.
Still able to see the death silhouettes, Sydney begins to get everyone off the highway, starting with a bus filled with people. She and Paul convince everyone to leave the bus and the cars by telling them that there is a bomb inside the bus. However, a driver leading the police chase rushes through the border barriers and collides into a tank truck, igniting leaking gasoline in the process. Sydney sees the little girl trapped in the car, her mother laying on the ground in front of it, already being hit by a passenger and losing consciousness. Paul breaks open the window and gets the girl out. Paul and Sydney carry the girl and her mother to safety just before the tank truck causes a chain explosion. Sydney is blinded by flying glass fragments in the process.
After recovering at a hospital, she returns to Los Angeles to continue performing as a blind violinist, though with a more optimistic view of her condition.Jessica Alba as Sydney Wells
Parker Posey as Helen Wells
Alessandro Nivola as Paul Faulkner
Rade Šerbedžija as Simon McCullough
Obba Babatundé as Dr. Hawkins
Tamlyn Tomita as Miss Cheung
Fernanda Romero as Ana Cristina Martinez
Rachel Ticotin as Rosa Martinez
Chloë Grace Moretz as Alicia Milstone
Using the pretext of a psychological thriller and paranormal experiences, the film explores mental illnesses such as the monothematic delusion known as mirrored-self misidentification.
Other themes include the concept of precognition, or premonition, perhaps becoming a popular cultural crossover from Asian beliefs about the unknown – since this film was a remake of a Hong Kong horror flick, and still retains Asian themes in the 2008 version.
Remake rights to the Pang brothers' original 2002 Hong Kong film, The Eye, were purchased by Cruise/Wagner Productions.
The band Blaqk Audio provided instrumental versions of the songs, "Between Breaths" and "The Love Letter" that were used in trailers and on the official website for the 2008 film. In response to the buzz it created, Jade Puget of the electronic duo suggested a possible public release of all the CexCells songs in instrumental form.
Alba spent much time with the blind soprano Jessica Bachicha to learn about how blind people lived, used the white cane, read Braille, etc.
This American remake follows Naina, a Hindi movie released in 2005, that is also based on the Pang Brothers' film.
The filming was done primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the surrounding areas. Sets were created using much of the downtown metro area, Sydney's apartment was built on a sound stage and was also filmed in Albuquerque. Exteriors were shot to look like the Downtown Los Angeles area. The establishing hospital shots – wherein Sydney is supposed to have had her sight-restoring surgery – are of LAC/USC Medical Center in the Boyle Heights district; 3/4 shots looking north- and southeast of the main 18-floor-high central building (the same building used for the television soap-opera General Hospital). Fictionally, the burned-out Chinese restaurant is supposed to be located just three-blocks from where Sydney lives; the exterior scene, in which Sydney is about to get into a taxicab and travel to Mexico, was filmed on 7th Street, just east of Figueroa, in the downtown area. Shots of Dr. Faulkner's office building are of the Forestry building at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Several other scenes, including outdoor shots, were shot in Albuquerque.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics, many considering it inferior to the original. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 22% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 75 reviews. Director David Moreau has admitted his dissatisfaction with the final version of The Eye. He also revealed that he was shut out of the editing room during the post-production stage and was considering taking his name off the film.
Jessica Alba's performance was generally criticized as well; Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called it "vapid". Alba was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actress for the film. However, she was also nominated for Favorite Female Leading Lady at the People's Choice Awards, and won the Choice Movie Actress: Horror/Thriller award at the Kids' Choice Awards for her performance in the film.
The film opened in second place at the U.S box office with $12.4 million. As of August 10, 2011, the film has a domestic gross of $31,418,697 with a foreign gross of $25,545,945 totaling an international gross of $56,964,642. In the United Kingdom, it grossed $1,398,958 in its opening weekend at #2.
The film was released on DVD (as single- and two-disc editions) and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008. The two-disc DVD and the Blu-ray Disc versions contain four featurettes ("Shadow World: The Paranormal Past", "Becoming Sydney", "Birth of the Shadowman" and "Dissecting a Disaster"), deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and a digital copy of the film for use on Windows and Mac computers.