SEPTEMBER 23, 2008
Since The Eye 2 was so good, I figured The Eye 3 (aka Eye Infinity; Chinese: Gin gwai 10) would be a safe “blind buy”, but I was wrong. While not terrible, it’s certainly nothing I’d ever want to watch again, and it’s a damn shame that they couldn’t sustain the level of quality from the previous films (the original Eye being one of the better of the ones that got American remakes).
I guess I should have been more suspicious about the film’s quality when I read the description on the back of the DVD, which is one of the most vague synopsii I have ever read. “Some believe that our world is one of many, that our existence is merely an intersection between countless dimensions – known and unknown. We run into strangers we don’t see, hear tunes we don’t hear. Most of us remain ignorant. But there are always those who are a little different, they would risk everything to find the truth if not the thrill – that is, to see the other side – just once in their lives.” Oh yeah? So who is the main character? Existence? The tunes we don’t hear?
But I can’t blame the back of the DVD guy (or gal, it’s an equal opportunity shit job) for not putting much effort into trying to explain this thing, as there isn’t really much of a narrative. Some kids bang chopsticks on bowls in order to make some ghosts appear, and then spend the rest of the movie wondering why ghosts are bothering them. It eventually just becomes a collection of setpieces, some of which are pretty entertaining, others not. However, none of them are suspenseful or scary, which is kind of a problem.
A big reason why the film lacks any tension whatsoever is that the kids never really seem scared about the ghosts after their initial encounter. At one point, two of them are in the land of the dead, trying to escape (I think; maybe they are just looking for a summer place there), and they discover that their breath will scare the ghosts away. As they breathe over and over (exciting!) they begin laughing and making fun of each other’s stinky breath. Then they fart at the ghosts. Granted, it’s supposed to be a funny movie (it borders parody at one point, when a kid asks about his report card, a la the original movie, but with a pretty hilarious punchline), but it should be suspenseful as well. Even the kids in Scary Movie seemed a bit more concerned about their predicaments.
Plus, the tone is all over the place. It’s funny one minute, then they attempt to scare you, then back to funny again; never blending together seamlessly like the more successful comedic horror films. Also, the end is just a downer, which is about the only thing it has in common with the (superior) first two films other than the rather general concept of ghosts.
That said, there are some great bits. Right after the awesome report card scene (and yet another elevator scene, the weakest yet), one of our guys inexplicably gets into a dance off with two street kids. It makes absolutely no sense at all, but it’s fucking hilarious. And in one of the few good horror bits, a kid is lost in the woods and a ghost begins shadowing his movements. Good stuff.
And to the Pang brothers’ credit, they make their intentions known right from the start. The opening credits seem like they are lifted from the Chinese version of 90210 or something, and the events of the first two films are dismissed as “scary stories”. Speaking of the credits, they are entirely in English, which is strange. Especially since the subtitles seem to think otherwise:
There is also a guy who appears to be speaking English, as his voice is quite clearly dubbed. It’s funny to see it the other way around for once, but the guy doing the dub is obviously like 20 years older than the actor. Luckily, he’s barely in the movie.
The DVD comes with a pair of extras, making of type stuff that isn’t particularly interesting, other than the Pangs explaining that they didn’t want to keep telling the same story (this coming from the guys who just remade their own movie, and quite badly, with Bangkok Dangerous), hence the complete change in tone from the first two films. They also point out that there is a fourth film, but that one does not have the Pangs’ involvement, so maybe the new team (Tsui Hark is directing) can either revive the franchise or kill it off for good.
What say you?