The Eye 3
All too often a basically good idea is made into a movie and becomes successful. Now this is not in itself a bad thing but when the film makers and studios decide to start down the sequel road it becomes a very uncertain matter. In the case of the Pang Brothers, Danny and Oxide, they had a solid movie with ‘The Eye’ back in 2002. This was followed up with a film that was good but didn’t live up to the first, ‘The Eye 2’ in 2004. In 2005 they added a third film to the series ‘Eye 3’. Well at least this is the Americanized title in China it more directly translates to ‘Eye 10’. In this case the number doesn’t refer to the ordinal place in the franchise, thankfully since that would mean there would be seven more of them to contend with. It refers to 10 different ways to contact the dead listed in the third flick. As with so many third films in a series, particularly with horror flicks, the premise is showing signs of advanced age and the potential for scares and thrills has been greatly diluted. For thousands of years people have been fascinated with communicating or seeing the dead. Famed magician Harry Houdini spent much of his later years debunking the charlatans who bilked money from grieving people with such promises or connecting them with deceased relatives. With this in mind movies like this are never going to go away. At this point perhaps the Pang brothers should consider branching out to different themes for their movies; they have gone to this well once too often and it is officially dry.
As was the case in the previous two flicks the Pang brothers wrote and directed this one. While the theme is almost exactly the same in the current installment they did try to shake things up a bit with the story. They replace their usual strong solitary female lead with an annoying group of young people. Perhaps they were attempting to broaden their demographic but all they achieved was to crowd the stage with characters. This also had the tendency to lessen the background and development for the characters as there is little chance to highlight them as individuals. For a film in the horror or thriller genre to be successful the audience has to be allowed to sympathize with the characters. Nothing in the make up of these characters affords the viewer such an opportunity. There is a lack of caring about what happens to these kids and realistically they are so annoying you almost want to see them get killed off. Another thing needed in a flick like this is it should be scary. Perhaps we have just become too jaded from the plethora of Indy horror movies that have flooded the market but there was just nothing frightening to be found here. Years ago my wife went to the movies with one of her girlfriends. She came back ranting about a steak that was crawling around and a guy’s face falling off and even a tree eating a little boy. That film was ‘Poltergeist’ and it scared her. Unfortunately no one will have a similar reaction after watching this one.
As directors the Pang brothers do slightly better. There are actually some rather well crafted scenes and imaginative moments to be found here. The down side is they are too few and far between to save the movie. Some of the situations are so down right silly that it takes you completely out of the horror mood. One of the methods to see dead people is to bend over and stick your head between your legs. This is such a hackney punch line that I doubt any horror film director could take this scene seriously and makes it work as horror. This film could be considered a more successful parody of horror films than a true member of the genre. Overall it would appear that the brothers should stick to directing for now. The film is generally well directed with a slick style that is interesting to watch. The film is visually stunning and edited as close to perfect as the material allows. This is a good thing since the story is such a bore.
The film opens in a Thai temple where the monks are chanting each joined by a string they are holding. They surround a young woman, suitably almost dressed in a flimsy slip. As the men continue their chant the girl squirms on the floor. The men begin to look at each other as the girl starts to growl in a deep animalistic voice. The growling suddenly stops and the girl levitates into the air. She starts to rotate; her head pointing at the monks in the circle. She stops and a very long tongue lashes out at the men. She starts to turn green as the scene fades out. May (Kate Yeung), her brother Ted (Chen Bo-lin) are in Thailand on a vacation with their friends Chongkwai (Ray MacDonald), Ko-fai (Kris Gu) and April (Isabella Leong). While on a bus Ted becomes attracted to a young Thai woman (Bongkoj Khongmalai). Considering the screener provided was in Mandarin and a subtitle or dubbed track was absent it was a little difficult to completely follow the story. Basically the group is shown a book by Chongkwai, who is a local. This book is called ’10 Encounters’ and it details ten ways to permit the living to see the dead. The kids decide it would be a kick to try them out. The first two are omitted; getting a cornea transplant and attempting suicide while pregnant. Not only would these methods be impossible to do they were already covered in the first two ‘Eye’ movies. It does seem strange that an ancient, mysterious book would have something in it about cornea transplants but this is not a flick to think a lot while watching. At first it is just fun to try but soon strange things start happening as they make the ghosts aware of the group and the spirits try to pull them apart. Ko-fai disappears followed by April. They return to Hong Kong where things just get more bizarre. May and Ted have an encounter with an animated umbrella and a ball. It is difficult to take some of these methods of seeing the dead seriously causing the movie to stall and garner unintentional laughs. All the momentum built up in the first act of the film degrades when they go back home. First of all May and Ted leave as soon as their friends are in trouble, great friends. Audiences don’t normally respond to such cowardice in a horror flick; you want the brave young people to stick kit out to help their friends. They do return later on but the damage was already done.
This film would have been a lot better had the Pang brothers treated it with the same respect for the genre as they had in the first ‘Eye’ movie. It falls into a juvenile mess after a pretty strong start. Once again a film with potential fails to hold together after the first act. The DVD is released by Lion’s Gate. As always they are dedicated to bringing little independent flicks to the public with an emphasis on some foreign movies you most likely were not aware of. At the time of this release the remake of the original ‘Eye’ flick with Jessica Alba is hitting DVD. If you really want an original film on this topic check out the 1994 movie ‘Blink’.
The Ten Encounters