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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Eye 3
The Eye 3
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // June 24, 2008
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted June 23, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Talk about title confusion. The Pang Brothers return to their popular horror franchise with "The Eye 10," which, despite the number, is the third film in the series. As such, it's being released Stateside on DVD under the more straightforward title "The Eye 3." But it's also called "The Eye Infinity" in the UK. Oh, and there's another film titled "The Eye 3" will be joining the series soon, this one from director Tsui Hark. Not sure what they'll call it when that one hits the US. (For sanity's sake, let's call this third movie "The Eye 3" during this review.)

For this newest chapter, the Pangs continue their tradition of crafting sequels with the flimsiest of connection to the prior entries. "The Eye 2" was solid enough as a scarefest to earn forgiveness for the crass nature of the in-name-only follow-up, while "The Eye 3," despite being a jolly fun time, is an overall thinner project, and the unconvincing connections to the first movie (or second, for that matter) leave viewers increasingly cynical regarding the disjointed franchise.

To be fair, the Pangs - directors/co-writers Danny and Oxide Pang - brought back their knack for staging chilling set pieces, and this time they've added something rarely seen in Asian horror flicks: humor.

The prologue sets the tone. A young woman, possessed by evil spirits, suddenly grows a massive tongue, which proceeds to slap, one by one, the monks guarding her. Cut to the opening credits, in which a group of twentysomethings thrill to amusement park rides, a none too subtle way of suggesting the movie to follow will be quite the roller coaster ride, so lighten up.

The movie proper finds those young adults enjoying a holiday and visiting old friends in Thailand; a friendly round of ghost stories leads to Chongkwai (Ray MacDonald) hauling out an old book he found in a mysterious shop a while back. The book tells of the ten ways a person can see ghosts - just the sort of thing these kids want to spice up their night of out-spooking each other. The first two of the fabled "Ten Encounters" involve the plots from the first two "Eye" movies, a conveniently cheap way of tying things together, even if there's zero logic in having a book offer simple solutions to spotting spirits include "get a cornea transplant."

The group skips to the other eight examples, starting off with a Ouija board, then a game involving chopsticks and bowls (to attract hungry ghosts), a round of hide and seek at midnight (don't ask), and then - how unsanitary! - rubbing dirt from a grave into your eyes. These last two go horribly wrong (it's all fun and games until someone gets graveyard dirt in her eye), but Chongkwai's mother (Pisamai Pakdeevijit) knows there's no stopping what they've started, and the curse will follow them back to Hong Kong, then back again to Thailand as the remaining few become desperate to save themselves.

There's not much in terms of the unnerving horror that fueled "The Eye" and its first sequel; instead, the Pangs attempt a lighter, "spook house" tone. All of the ghost-spotting methods spring from actual Thai and Chinese myths and urban legends, as if to say, hey kids, you might have tried these once, now here's the movie version. There are still quite a few effectively scary scenes, but most of the frights carry the weight of those ghost stories from the start of the film - just something for a good time. This explains such bizarre moments as when one character is possessed by a breakdancing ghost and winds up popping and locking right up the walls. (It's more fun than it sounds, but not much.)

Fans of the series will get a kick out of two sly references to the original film. The first is a rerun of the elevator scene (this time the lift's full of ghosts), and the second is a twisted little joke involving the little boy from the hallway.

Goofy bits like that make for great fun, but the lack of focus in the screenplay (the characters just wander from set piece to set piece until the movie remembers the plot and brings everyone back to Thailand) and sense of inconsequentiality to the terror (creepy though they are, the ghosts never pose a real threat; an emotionally hefty finale doesn't quite mesh with what comes before) leave the film a little too much on the forgettable side. As such, "The Eye 3" is plenty fun but ultimately lacks the kick the franchise has previously provided.

The DVD

In bringing the film to the U.S., Lionsgate offers "The Eye 3" in a version with new opening and closing credits in English (complete with new title, natch). Not having seen the original Hong Kong release, I can't vouch for any changes, but nothing else seems to have been altered in this American version. (The 86 minute running time seems to match information found regarding the Hong Kong release.)

Video & Audio

Making the most out of the shadows, "The Eye 3" looks pretty darn solid in this anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, with deep, gorgeous black levels that don't overwhelm the image. There's a ton of ugly grain right where the Pangs want it to be (certain ghost-heavy cutaways), while the rest is crisp and clean.

The soundtrack (a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai) is offered in both Dolby 5.1 and 2.0; both tracks keep dialogue up front, with the surround track using rear speakers to expand the effects and music. Both tracks have a nice, full sound to them. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

Two featurettes, both running just over eight minutes, become redundant as both offer more or less the same information. Titled "Ten Ways to See Ghosts" and "The Making of The Eye 3" on the special features menu, these featurettes are simply the two-part "The Making of The Eye Infinity" from the Region 2 release (which, in turn, seems to be Asian promotional material with an English title screen). Both shorts feature cast and crew discussing - very, very briefly - the origins of the story and the mannerisms of the characters; clips from the film heavily pad the running time of each. There's barely any real making-of information here, although we do get an ample supply of on-set footage. In typical EPK fashion, the second featurette ends with the movie's trailer. Both featurettes are presented in 1.78:1 flat letterbox; non-removable English subtitles are included.

A batch of previews for other Lionsgate releases rounds out the set; these trailers also play as the disc loads.

Final Thoughts

Fans of the series (or of horror in general) will surely want to give this one a glance, just to see where the Pangs are able to take the franchise. But there's nothing here that warrants a second look, so you'll do fine to simply Rent It.
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