The Eye 2

I suppose after the huge global success of “The Eye” the chances of a follow up from the Pang Brothers were pretty high. The likelihood of this becoming a franchise though may have diminished with this film even though I have read that another "Eye" film has already been planned. It apparently has not done nearly as well at the box office as did the first film and whether it will get the same international festival action as its predecessor is questionable. The Internet word of mouth has also not been kind for the most part. I actually enjoyed it a fair amount, but can understand why horror fans are giving it a mugging. Simple – it’s not really scary in that traditional slow build horror film manner with the frights escalating along the way. Sure it has the requisite sudden startles – probably the easiest thing in the world to achieve for a director – but more importantly what it creates is a mood of unease and sadness that rarely disappear. It is really a dark psychological mood piece more than a horror film – a story of deep depression, isolation, loneliness and possible madness and on that level I think this film works fine. The supernatural is almost a result of these social ills and the fact that no one else ever sees any manifestation of these ghosts makes you wonder how much of it is only in her own mind.
The other element of the film that makes it perhaps difficult to digest for many is that this is a very claustrophobic film that focuses entirely on one person with no other major characters. One feels compressed and nearly injected under the skin of this person and everyone else simply passes by – the world is entirely seen through her eyes, through her senses, through her emotional instability. There is no distance given to the viewer and it’s not comfortable. She has no friends, no family, no support system and underneath all of the “horror” elements is really a portrait of a broken person unable to connect with anyone. When she finally does, it is creepy yet strangely cathartic and hopeful.
Now what really might scare potential viewers more than the film itself is the fact that this woman is portrayed by Hsu Chi. This is about as close to a one woman show as a commercial film can be – she is in nearly every minute of the film – often talking to herself (or spirits) or simply reacting to things around her - at times you feel like an intruder in her life. Lets just get this out of the way – Hsu Chi is very good in this film – perhaps the best thing she has done yet – for many that may be faint praise, but she is an actress who simply gets better and better. In so many of her films though she tends to fall back on her girlish squealing annoying to many persona – but not here. Nor does she rely on glamour or her sex appeal at all. She is a well-etched character on the verge of a breakdown and she never steps out of character – she has some excellent scenes in which the camera watches patiently as emotions and confusions wind their way through her body and face and she carries it off completely.
While in Bangkok Joey (Hsu Chi) is having a problem with her boyfriend (Jesdaporn Pholdee) back in Hong Kong. He is avoiding her like a bad skin rash and their relationship appears to be on the rocks. She takes revenge by going on a buying spree with credit cards and then returning to the hotel to attempt suicide of a kind. Of a kind because she leaves a wake up call with the reception desk and tells them to make sure she is woken up. So this is really more of a desperate person looking for attention – but she goes nearly too far and possibly crosses over to the other side of death before she is brought back. Afterwards she has gained the ability to see ghosts that not surprisingly freaks her out. She also discovers that she is pregnant and after giving thought to having an abortion decides to keep the baby. She seeks out a priest (Philip Kwok) for guidance and he basically tells her to adapt to her ability– that there is no inherent evil in a ghost – they are simply us after we are dead.
Easier said than done as she has dead bodies crashing into the street in front of her or ripping a man’s face off. One ghost (Eugenia Yuan – the wife in "Going Home") in particular seems to have a real interest in her and in her unborn baby and Joey fears that she has harmful intentions for her baby – the truth slowly comes out and to her is even more horrifying. Apparently the ending on the DVD is slightly different than in the theaters – in the theaters she climbs the stairs only one time – which is perhaps the better more sensible version – the DVD version has an echo of a Monty Python skit around it – “one more time please”. The film doesn’t really have much of a narrative plot for most of its running time – its simply about this woman who sees ghosts and has trouble dealing with it and the Pangs riff on this scenario various times. It's not until the final section of the film in which it all comes together and when one character says "I just want to forget" one realizes how much pain there is out there among the living and the dead.

My rating for this film: 7.5