ere's the thing about these "I see dead people" movies: if I woke up
one day and realized I was seeing ghosts, I would be scared; at least, for the
first couple of days, and weeks, and perhaps even the first couple of months.
But after a while, I think I would get used to it. After all, it's not like the
ghosts ever do anything to me. They basically just stand there looking all
creepy and whatnot. After a while, wouldn't seeing ghosts just standing in the
corner or sitting in the cab next to you be sort of...blah?
"The Eye 2", the sequel to the Pang Brothers'
immensely popular -- critically and commercially -- 2002 horror film starring
Angelica Lee, returns in 2004 with Qi Shu ("Looking
For Mr. Perfect") at the top of the marquee. Shu plays Joey, a
distraught young woman whose suicide attempts end badly -- with her still alive
and now with the ability to see ghosts. One ghost in particular is haunting
Joey, appearing to her at every turn. If that wasn't bad enough, Joey discovers
that she's pregnant, and that darn persistent ghost seems to either want her
baby, or has something to do with it.
To get it out of the way first: this is why I adore Qi Shu.
She's not only a pleasure to look at, but she's proven to be a fine, fine
actress indeed. Given the right material, the young woman excels on many levels.
Rather kicking ass in "So
Close" or playing the femme fatale in "Transporter",
Qi Shu has so successfully shed her Category III days that her transition from
cheapie sex films to mainstream respect is nothing short of astounding. In
"The Eye 2", Shu is in top form. Beautiful, haunting, emotional, and
switching back and forth with effortless flair.
But alas, I'm afraid Qi Shu is the only reason you'll want to bother with
"The Eye 2". Although sold as a sequel to the Angelica Lee starrer
(and in fact the premise, while not exactly the same, is close enough), this
follow-up is just barely good enough to waste one's time with. As with most
Asian horror films, unless you are a complete novice to the genre, nothing here
will even remotely scare you. "The
Eye" gave me goose bumps and I swear the hairs on the back of my neck
stood up. "The Eye 2" can't say the same.
Oh sure, the Pang brothers know how to make you jump. But
getting the audience to jump is a lot easier than making them scared. To make
the audience jump all you have to do is perform a quick whip with the camera and
shower the audience with loud screeching noise. Then again, if all you're
capable of doing is make the audience jump by assaulting them with suddenly loud
screeching noise and whipping the camera around to show a ghost standing in the
background, you're not trying very hard. When it comes to being a horror movie,
I'm afraid "The Eye 2" is too lazy to be effective.
Clocking in at a scant 80 minutes, "The Eye 2"
feels at least 30 minutes too long. Most of the film is devoted to Joey going
about her life pining for her married lover Sam (Jesdaporn Pholdee) while
getting "scared" by ghostly apparitions. Once again, I have to point
out that if ghosts keep appearing to you, shouldn't you be used to it by now? In
the film, Joey is continually haunted for 8 straight months, with the ghosts
coming faster as her pregnancy moves along. And yet, 8 months later, she's still
screaming at the sight of ghosts. Sheesh. Some people just can't adapt.
From a directorial angle, the Pangs have certainly improved as filmmakers.
"The Eye 2" is a visually pleasing film, with a lot of intimate
close-ups of Joey and attention paid to her lonely, pointless existence.
Ironically, "The Eye 2" would have worked better as a straight drama,
or even a tragic love story, instead of the horror film it was billed as. More
often than not, the horror elements -- the falling ghosts, the
now-you-see-them-now-you-don't apparitions -- feel forced and out of place. As a
meditation on life, love, and Eastern spirituality, the film works.
I don't recommend "The Eye 2" for anyone who has
seen one or two Asian Ghost Stories before, and are looking for another film to
scare them. This sequel just doesn't have what it takes to be scary; and one
suspects it really doesn't have it in itself to even try. But for anyone looking
for a tour de force performance from an attractive actress, "The Eye
2" will suffice. Qi Shu does a fantastic job, giving a performance that
would be extraordinary in a straight drama. Here, she just comes across as
better than the material deserves.