“The Child’s Eye” is the latest entry in the Pang Brothers’ “Eye” horror series, one that began in fine fashion with 2002’s highly effective “The Eye” (starring Angelica Lee), before repeating itself with “The Eye 2” two years later (with Qi Shu this time seeing ghosts), and the curiously named “The Eye 10” three years after that. “The Child’s Eye” boasts the Pangs working in the 3D format, and indeed, much of the film’s selling points seem to be those “look out, it’s coming right at you!” 3D elements. As to the film itself? Well let’s just say this: “The Child’s Eye” should have been sold as a comedy, because I laughed more times than I cringed in fear. Unfortunately, I think everyone involved in the film were going for scares.
2002’s “The Eye” was so good that it spawned a Hollywood remake starring Jessica Alba, and even offered the brothers the opportunity to, at least for a while, tread in the forbidden waters of expensive Hollywood studio movies. Whereas “The Eye” was good and scary and made you look over your shoulder (Hellooooo elevator scene), “The Child’s Eye” will probably just have you snorting at all the unintentional humor. The film’s pièce de résistance has to be when the heroine is attacked by the film’s ghost, only to have the heroine turn the tables and begin wailing on the poor spirit. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. This takes place about an hour into “The Child’s Eye”, and it was then that I realized the Pangs were yanking my chain, and that “The Child’s Eye” was really just their audition tape to take over the “Scary Movie” franchise. I could be wrong, of course.
The film is set in Thailand (a familiar haunt — no pun intended — for the Pangs, who seems to split their films equally between Hong Kong and Thailand), and set during that country’s last major political upheaval that resulted in an ousted Prime Minister. The country is a vacation spot for quarreling lovebirds Rainie (Raine Yang) and Lok (Shawn Yue, amusingly billed as a “Special Guest Star”), along with their four buddies. (Side note: Rainie’s BFFs, played by Ciwi Lam and Elaane Kwong spend the entire movie in tight tops and short-shorts, whereas Rainie is stuck in shabby knee-high cargo shorts and ill-fitting vest.) It seems Rainie and Lok are having problems, though if I had to guess, it might just be that after five years together, he’s gotten sick of her hideous fashion sense. Too superficial?
Problems arise for the vacationing Hong Kongers when the political situation in Thailand forces them to flee the country. Alas, the airports have been taken over by protestors (this actually happened in real life), forcing the group to take shelter at a rundown hotel instead. There, the friends immediately sense that things are not quite right, and they are quickly proven clairvoyant when the boys go missing (including “Special Guest Star” Shawn Yue), and a little girl and her little dog begin seeing a ghostly apparition and a half-human, half-dog monster wandering the hallways. It’s up to Rainie and her two BFFs to solve the hotel’s murderous past and somehow, some way force the hotel’s gimpy owner (Gordon Lam) to spill the truth. Fortunately for the friends, that little girl and her spirit-seeing dog are there to lend a hand. Or, er, paw.
If you’ve seen all of the Pangs’ “Eye” movies, then you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that “The Child’s Eye” isn’t much of a horror movie. The quality of the franchise has declined noticeably with each new entry, and indeed, “The Child’s Eye” only features one really worthwhile horror moment out of the entire 90 minute running time, and it adds nothing to the movie’s plot. The rest of the film is devoted to silly stuff like the aforementioned mano-a-mano fistfight with the ghost and a stalking sequence involving the half-human, half-dog creature that borders on the absurd. You would think that having the snout of a dog would allow the creature to smell a freshly minted Hong Kong vacationer standing right next to it holding a squealing dog, but you would be wrong. “The Child’s Eye” is filled with such gems.
The only real reason I can think of to see “The Child’s Eye” is if you caught it in theaters while wearing 3D glasses. On DVD, the film just doesn’t have any real benefits that I can recommend, though as I’ve mentioned throughout the review, the film really is unintentionally very funny in spots. The cast won’t wow anyone, with leading lady Raine Yang (she’s no Angelica Lee, or even a poor man’s Qi Shu) looking constantly on the verge of tears. Or maybe that’s just method acting. Either/or. Shawn Yue is so melancholy and unlikeable, that you cheer when his character disappears for huge chunks of the movie after the 20-minute mark. Co-stars Elaane Kwong and Ciwi Lam are lovely young ladies (Elaane Kwong in particular – be still my heart), but those short-shorts of theirs do most of the acting, I’m afraid.
The Pangs have always been prolific filmmakers, so I’m sure they’ll have no problems moving on from “The Child’s Eye”. Mind you, not that they have anything to be concern about in terms of financial returns, since the film has done very well as the duo’s first 3D horror movie. I’m sure this will mean more 3D entries in the future, though honestly, I hope the trend dies, and soon. When a film’s entire reason for being seems to be to throw furniture and rogue flying hands at the audience, I’m not sure if it qualifies as an honest to goodness “movie” anymore.
Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang (director) / Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang (screenplay)
CAST: Raine Yang … Rainie
Shawn Yue … Lok
Ciwi Lam … Ciwi
Rex Ho … Rex
Elaane Kwong … Ling
Jo Koo …
Gordon Lam …