If you've ever been to a theme park (I'm talking about a real amusement park here, not the rides that they set up in the K-Mart parking lot.), then you've no doubt seen the warning signs on roller coasters and the like stating that pregnant women should not partake in the attraction. The Hong Kong sequel The Eye 2 should carry the same kind of warning. Not because it's a horror film, but because it portrays nearly every nightmare scenario that a pregnant woman could encounter.
As The Eye 2 opens, we meet Joey Cheng (Shu Qi), a young woman who is having an affair with the married Sam (Jesdaporn Pholdee). Distraught over the futility of the relationship, Joey attempts suicide in a Bangkok hotel, but is discovered by the staff and rescued. Following this, Joey gets more shocking news -- she's pregnant with Sam's child. After some soul-searching, Joey decides to keep the baby. She then begins to see people that others can't. On train platforms, in cabs, on the streets, these strange apparitions continue to appear to her. Joey soon comes to understand that she's seeing ghosts, and one of them may be after her baby.
I've been a fan of Asian horror for some time now, and The Eye is one of my favorites. While the film had a very simple premise (which had been used in many other movies), the movie was very effective, creating sympathetic characters and delivering two of the most frightening scenes that I'd ever witnessed. (Along with Ringu, this the film which I typically use to introduce friends to Asian horror.) The movie did a nice job of focusing on suspense and an overall creepy feeling rather than shocking horror. The Pang Brothers (Oxide and Danny) masterfully directed that movie and I was very pleased to see their names attached to The Eye 2.
While the second film is a sequel in name only, it shares a similar premise in that the heroine can see ghosts. But, that's where the similarities between the two films end. While The Eye 2 does contain a cohesive story, it focuses more on individualized scenes as Joey goes through her life. The movie contracts time and we experience all 9 months of Joey's pregnancy (in bits and pieces). The movie never takes on any true narrative flow, as we jump from scene-to-scene watching Joey either encounter a ghost, or doing something bizarre -- which is always attributed to pregnant hysteria. In this sense, the film is somewhat redundant. Joey sees a ghost acts weird, does something drastic, sees a ghost... It would be an overstatement to say that the film is boring, as there's always something happening, but I did often find my mind wandering during the movie. Also, the movie suffers from the fact that Joey isn't a very engaging character. From the moment that we meet her, she comes off as desperate and self-absorbed, and this doesn't change throughout the film. We learn little about who she is (Maybe it's the subtitles, but we don't learn her name until well into the film.) and thus it's very hard to care about her.
The weak story and characterization aside, The Eye 2 isn't a total loss, as the Pang's bring their strong visual style to the film. The movie has a good look and the Pang's prove that they still know how to shoot a ghost scene. There is a scene in an elevator which is good, but doesn't come close to the elevator scene in the first film. The best part of the film comes at the 53:00 point, where the Pang's unleash one of the best "jump" scares that I've seen in a while. Unfortunately, the brothers have lost their lean towards what I would call "classier" shocks, as The Eye 2 contains several graphic hospital scenes. If you've ever wanted to know what it's like when someone's stomach is pumped, then this film will let you know. As noted in the introduction, there are many graphic scenes depicting or implying pregnancy problems, giving the film a very sleazy feel. Fans of Asian horror will find something to like in The Eye 2 and once again, the film does contain one outstanding scene, but the movie similar pales in comparison to its predecessor.
This particular DVD of The Eye 2 comes from Mega Star Video Distribution Ltd. of Hong Kong. This DVD is an All-Region coded disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (In fact, the DVD contains a guide to setting up anamorphic transfers, which I'd never seen before.) The image looks quite good, as the image is sharp and for the most part, clear. There are some noticeable defects from the source material from time-to-time though, such as black spots and very small scratches. Also, the image shows a slight touch of grain. The picture is well-balanced, as the black tones look very good and the image is never too dark. I detected no edge-enhancement issues, although there were some problems from artifacting. Considering that foreign DVDs of this nature are often hit-or-miss, the trasnfer on The Eye 2 DVD is quite good.
This DVD carries a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track, a Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and a Cantonese DTS 5.1 track. All three tracks are fine, but the DTS track is amazing. One often forgets just how good audio is supposed to sound, this track delivers. The dialogue is also clear and audible. The stereo effects, which are often negligible on most DVD audio tracks, sound great and the stereo separation is quite impressive. The surround sound effects are abundant and LFE channel is constantly busy. However, the dynamic range is nicely handled and the surround and subwoofer effects never overpower the dialogue. The film gets a definite boost from the great audio on the DVD. The English subtitles are clear and easy to read, although the do contains a few grammatical errors.
The DVD contains a few extras, which is unusual for a budget title such as this. "The Story" is simply a text synopsis of the movie, in both English and Chinese. "Alternative Ending" (sic) is 2 1/2 minutes long and is in Chinese with NO ENGLISH SUBTITLES. This is a dialogue scene, so I have no idea what happened, or if it was any better than the theatrical ending. Likewise, the 14-minute "Making of" has no English subtitles and is thus, hard to follow. This segment offers interviews with the cast and crew and some behind-the-scenes footage, but is mostly made up of clips from the movie. The extras are rounded out by the Teaser, the Trailer, Cast Listing, and Filmographies.
Those who found The Eye to be both a modern masterpiece and a throwback to simpler times will be disappointed by The Pang Brothers more graphic sequel. The movie contains some nice photography and one great scare, but at this point, it simply looks like an imitator of the original film.