The Eye 2 (2004) / Horror-Drama
aka Gin gwai 2
MPAA Rated: R for disturbing violent images
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Shu Qi, Jesdaporn Pholdee, Eugenia Yuan
Director: The Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang, Danny Pang)
Screenplay: Lawrence Cheng, Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui
Review published April 20, 2007
Like many horror sequels, The Eye 2 isn't a direct continuation of the events of the first entry, The Eye, or even of the main themes. When such decisions are made, they are generally done in order to capitalize on the first film's success and deliver a potential franchise. What's odd about The Eye 2 is that, although it is made by the same writer-directors as the first film, Oxide and Danny Pang (The Messengers), it plays like a different film altogether.
Whereas the The Eye involved a blind woman who saw beyond the plane of the living to see those who are deceased, this sequel has nothing to do with restoration of vision, or even of eyes themselves, save for a woman who can see (and interact with, somewhat) the dead. While it's disingenuous to call this a sequel, or even a spin-off to The Eye, it does tap into the same market for those who like slow, somber, atmospheric horror that lulls you through its deliberate pace in order to spook you out with sudden scenes of shockingly creepy behavior.
Shu Qi (The Transporter, So Close) plays Joey Cheng, a young woman who, after facing the latest in a string of rejections in relationships, decides she can't take the pain anymore (her most recent beau refuses to even acknowledge her phone calls), opting to try to kill herself with sleeping pills. Things don't work according to plan, as she is found and saved, but the discovery is made that she is with her ex-boyfriend's child. After the botched suicide, Joey finds that she isn't alone in the world, even when there are no others in the room, as she begins to see ghosts of dead people are living on the same plane as the living, though only she is aware of their presence. She is mortified to discover that some of these ghosts are following pregnant women around, though she isn't sure exactly why. As the date of Joey's daughter looms closer, she begins to suspect that the some malignant fate might be in store for her and her child.
While The Eye 2 is sporadically interesting, mostly in the beginning, when you aren't quite sure what's going on and why, ultimately it plays too much like so many other Asian horror films, including the Pangs' first film, to ever stand out on its own. Although The Eye wasn't the most original film in its genre, it did have a fresh approach, and a decent cataclysmic finale that brought everything to a dramatic head. The Eye 2 only really benefits from the mild star presence of Shu Qi, feeling more like a very slow build-up to something that never shakes out as truly important or deep. We find out what the purpose of the ghosts is in Joey's life, but none of it is particularly scary (unless you consider weird-looking people who appear out of nowhere as scary), and once the end develops, it goes out more with a shrug than a bang.
Without any tie-in to the first film other than the title, The Eye 2 is of appeal strictly to those who feast on anything resembling Asian horror. Even among these films, it is rather unremarkable, only having the reincarnation hook to distinguish it, which isn't enough of a new wrinkle to merit its own movie without more emphasis on deeper themes. The Pang Brothers aren't of that sort, only interested in delivering atmosphere, a few scares, and nothing more. While occasionally successful at effectively making the film creepy, the lack of substance or overall significance to the human (and postmortem) condition eventually wears the material too thin. Just like the reincarnation hook that develops in the film, the Pang Brothers try to bring forth new life to ideas that have been done to death for some time, but instead, it's just "same shit, different package".
©2007 Vince Leo