NOVEMBER 22, 2011
There is a baby born with the head of a dog in The Child’s Eye, and yet the title is STILL the most baffling thing about it. I assume this is meant to be a sequel (at least in a spiritual sense, like Halloween III) to the other Eye films, but there is nothing about eyes in the plot, and the only children around don’t really seem to have a point of view about anything, being that they’re half dog. Really weird, and yet (sadly) far more interesting than pretty much anything in the movie itself, which alternates between being deathly dull and presenting largely pointless scare scenes designed around “Comin At Ya!” moments.
Oh, yeah – it was a 3D movie. As far as I can tell they haven’t ported over the 3D version for Blu-ray owners with 3DTVs, so until that day comes we’re all stuck watching a movie that features a dozen pointless shots meant to wow an audience wearing heavy dark glasses. Not only are they laughably pointless, but they’re also extended forever – a guy holds a cleaver “out” for like 10 full seconds before they cut to the next shot/move the movie along. But otherwise I don’t see any reason for this to be in 3D; it’s a very flat, uninteresting movie that takes place primarily in cramped rooms and basements, with actors in closeup or medium shots – there’s not a lot of depth to anything besides the few exterior scenes (a brief riot scene might be fun in the format). In other words, it’s the sort of movie that gives weight to the “3D is pointless” argument, since even the format’s defenders (of which I am one) would probably see little value in this particular presentation.
It doesn’t help that the movie’s mostly a chore to sit through until the final 15 minutes, which I’ll now have to spoil in order to keep the review from being a total slam. Like most of these movies, the climax is flashback heavy, explaining why the ghost is doing what it’s doing, and I must admit that it’s more interesting and tragic than originally depicted. Around the halfway point we get a flashback showing us what happened, but the teller got the story wrong, and we learn that the guy we thought was the vengeful murderer was actually a tragic hero of sorts. I also like that the dog faced thing we’ve been seeing wasn’t just some weird nightmare creation – the humans at the center of the backstory actually gave birth to twins with dog faces. If nothing else, you can’t accuse the movie of not giving us anything new.
But why did they confine it to the final 15 minutes? Until then it’s just the same old shit we’ve seen a million times – our kids see weird things, ghosts stand around near them doing nothing, etc. And we don’t even SEE the ghosts too often – more often than not they are depicted via rattling chairs or ladders (meant to suggest the ghost is sitting there or climbing up/down). You gotta love that they decided to make Hong Kong’s first new 3D film and opted to keep a ghost – who SHOULD be flying in our faces – offscreen and represented by a twitching piece of wood. Worse, the characters have no real stakes in what is going on - they’re mostly just observing the family (two ghosts, two still alive) work their shit out and trying to stay out of the way.
The Pangs also botch things by more or less getting rid of all three male characters at the 30 minute mark, leaving just their three girlfriends to wander around the hotel looking for them (it’s the reason they don’t just leave, I guess). The first 20 minutes or so leaned heavily on the impending breakup between two of them, but once the guy disappears with the others, this subplot becomes entirely worthless until the very end. And by keeping the guy out of the movie so long, what should be a somewhat emotional reunion (plus a “stay together” message) doesn’t register at all. It would have been far more interesting if they were the only two protagonists – by putting him in the same boat as his anonymous friends (and having his girlfriend joined by equally anonymous friends in her “search”), they lose focus of the potentially tragic romance angle. Worse, they kill some of the goodwill that the ending had earned for the film by presenting a pointless epilogue where the two talk about how they stuck together after all. It’s amazing that the guys who managed to such a great job with this sort of “horror and people regretting their actions” mix in The Eye 2 and Re-Cycle can botch something so universally identifiable as the breakup of a long-term relationship.
I don’t know if the dialogue is their fault though. For a change, the subtitles matched the dub language perfectly, but I suspect that the dub is just as dumbed down (perhaps actually dubbed based on the subtitle track). The dubbing actors speak very awkwardly, as they are likely trying to match up with the lips of the original actor, but since the subs are just as awkward, you might as well just use the dub track and thus be able to focus on the image. I’d even argue that the strange line-readings made the movie more tolerable; surely hearing the Cantonese language wouldn’t be as entertaining as hearing someone say “half child half dog monster” in a flat manner (no pause between “child” and the second “half”).
Along with a bunch of trailers (including one for Lionsgate’s nearly four year old Eye remake – give it up!), there’s a 25+ minute set of interviews with most of the cast, the Pangs, and an FX guy, often accompanied with behind the scenes footage. It’s not very well edited (one actress talks about how they were able to watch 3D footage right there on set with the glasses over footage where no one is actually doing that), but it’s good enough for this sort of thing, especially if you’re a 3D nut since they talk about the problems that a production must overcome when working with the format.
Oddly there is another “sequel” called Missing that follows the original concept of someone seeing things that happened when they were not present, so this would be the 5th Eye if it even counts as part of the series. Either way, it just adds to my suspicion that the Pangs, despite a few quite good films, are not the masters of the genre I originally though. At this point I’ve disliked more than I’ve liked, I think. Christ, they even made me hate a Nic Cage movie (Bangkok Dangerous), something that almost never happens. With all the junk he makes, I’m usually at least entertained on some level, but Bangkok was almost a walk-out movie for me. Anyone who can make me consider walking out on Cage is not to be trusted.
What say you?