Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Eye II (2004)


Directors: Danny Pang Phat and Oxide Pang Chun
Screenplay: Lawrence Cheng
Cast: Shu Qi as Joey Cheng; Eugenia Yuan as Yuen Chi-kei; Jesdaporn Pholdee as Sam; Philip Kwok as a Monk
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #114

The Eye II, in vast contrast to its prequel, is just dire. Barring a few plodding moments of melodrama, the original film was a sober, quiet story and was generally compelling. The Eye II in contrast has complete amnesia to about every virtue the previous film had. The premise itself isn't that bad for a film which, frankly, shouldn't have been included in this series and should've been its own film instead with a different title; as the original film followed a blind woman whose life is woven between having eye transplant surgery and her struggle with seeing the dead after this event, here Joey Cheng (Shu Qi) is a woman who after a mock suicide both has to deal with the fact she can now see the dead too and the added complication that she's pregnant, having to go through the entire nine months of maternity whilst dealing with what she can now see, showing in chapters based on the months passing and her body changing due to pregnancy. It offers the Pang Brothers another drama of interest but instead of following the perfectly solid template of the previous film, The Eye II makes considerable changes which causes it to completely tank in execution.

The film is slicker, more elaborate in general style and significantly more gorier, even having CGI effects for the ghosts. It's also more reliant on generic jump scares and loses the melancholic tone of the original work. Damaging it considerably is how the ghosts are no longer treated as individuals of immense sympathy who, despite being frightening and haunting the protagonist of before, are now openly malevolent entities, ones whose behaviour for three-quarters of the film to Joey are completely at odds with the attempt at sympathy  at the end. Their behaviour has not only been aggressively menacing but, through the narrative, they are portrayed as openly causing stillbirths when in the original black death-like figures were merely bystanders who came in to take the souls of those who passed, contradicting the attempts at connecting through the original's spiritual tone with meandering philosophies from a monk Joey sees. The grimly interesting plot idea that eventually appears - that they can be reborn through the livings' pregnancies - becomes less a fascinating metaphor for life cycles, especially as those who can see the dead could come to a burying of any grievances and allow the dead to relive life, but crudely implemented. Any sense of meaning and message that made the original Eye admirable is lost.

It even becomes farcical in how more gruesome and aggressively presented in the shocks it is, where bodies suddenly fall down from the top of the camera frame in one scene with such crunchy detail its closer to a Herschell Gordon Lewis shock than the serious horror its meant to be. Emphasising this is the worse creative decision of the film where, rather than like heroine Mun in the first film who reacts calmly to the hauntings and only starts to act negatively when the pressure of the supernatural beings is too much for her, Joey is a figure whose already prone to childishness and exaggerated actions, faking a suicide knowing how dangerous it is and that she'll be in the hospital getting her stomach pumped, and one whose only reaction to the ghosts is to scream and immediately cause people to suspect she's lost her marbles than be sympathetic to her. Repeated scenes of her reacting violently to ghosts is just boring, the melodrama with her ex-boyfriend close to agony when the film completely stops. Even when it gives up seriousness completely for an absurd elaboration of the ending of Roman Polanski's The Tenant (1976), it cannot save The Eye II from being badly thought out.  


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