Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Writer: Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Producer: Peter Chan Ho-Sun, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Cast: Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan Lai-Kai, Jesdaporn Pholdee, Phillip Kwok Chun-Fung, Rayson Tan
Running Time: 98 min.
By Raging Gaijin
I have good memories of “The Eye”. I saw in the theatre many years ago but I remember it being an altogether absorbing and chilling horror film. Angelica Lee gave a solid performance, the Pang Brothers’ directing was stylish without being overbearing, and it had the scariest opening credits sequence I have ever seen. And, while it may be because it was one of the first Asian horror movies I’d viewed, it seemed fairly original. Yeah, it owes a lot to “The Sixth Sense” but at least there weren’t any long-haired ghosts with glaring eyes crawling out of electonical devices. In short, “The Eye” is what I would consider Asian horror done right.
Alright, everything I just said about “The Eye”? Throw that out the window because “The Eye 2” is the polar opposite of its predecessor. The direction of the Pang Brothers is as stylish as ever, but this is just a sequel that did not even need to be made. “The Eye” had a definite sense of closure about it and, really, “The Eye 2” has very little to do with the original film. Everything about it screams ‘We did this for money!’ right down to the casting of global superstar Shu Qi in the lead. No offense to Shu Qi: she is more than adequate in the lead role, but not even her presence could save this movie.
I think the main problem lies in Shu Qi’s character. She’s a depressed and suicidal young woman. The only proactive things she does in this movie is try to kill herself during the first ten minutes, seek help from a janitor, and then try to kill herself again at the end of the movie. In other words, she’s a victim. She’s a character who lets everything happen to her and her reaction is usually to just pass out. In fact, she passes out and then wakes up in the hospital at least three or four times during the entire 98 minutes of the film. It gets old really fast. This is not to say that you *can’t* write a compelling story about a depressed and suicidal person… but these screenwriters didn’t. There comes a point when you have to make your main protagonist actually do something in retaliation against the forces assailing them. It’s honestly hard to care for Shu Qi’s character when she spends most of the movie crying, screaming, or in the hospital. Shu Qi herself performs all these scenes with aplomb but it just doesn’t matter: this not the kind of person you base a movie around.
The rest of “The Eye 2” is filled with the familiar Asian horror clichés and “Sixth Sense” retreads. Shu Qi sees dead people, some of which are Asian women with long black hair who float through the air. The movie’s most original aspect is its take on reincarnation. I always thought that Buddhists had a rather positive take on the subject but in “The Eye 2” it’s not altogether pleasant. It seems that when women are pregnant, the dead soul of someone waiting to be reincarnated hovers beside them until they were ready to give birth. As they’re about to deliver their child, the ghost will *swim up the birth canal and into the womb* to be reincarnated within the baby. So, yeah, this is original…but it also looks absolutely ridiculous on film! Imagine a CGI-ghost floating through the air and then straight up a pregnant woman’s legs. Yeah, it’s just plain silly and it completely ruins the dread-filled tone the Pang Brothers are going for.
It’s a shame too, because I like the Pang Brothers. I’ve liked them since I saw “Bangkok Dangerous”. I think they’re both talented filmmakers and I’ll continue to watch their films, but they completely missed the mark with “The Eye 2”, which feels like a slapped-together attempt to cash in on the success of the first one. I’d recommend you avoid it unless you’re a die-hard fan of Shu Qi (or you just want to see her vomit, which she does at least twice here). Unfortunately, “The Eye 2” is just another nail in the coffin of Asian horror, which is swiftly becoming a tired and clichéd genre.
Raging Gaijin’s Rating: 5/10