Directed by The Pang Brothers, 2005, 86 minutes, starring Ray MacDonald, Isabella Leong, Bo-lin Chen, Kate Yeung, Yu Gu, and Pisamai Pakdeevajit.
Oh snap, what is this? A review of a The Eye sequel! You didn't think all the guffawing the editorial staff at Snowblood Apple has done over the years re: The Eye 2 would keep me away from this nugget, did you? One of the key plot points is a joke about farts! I am so excited to be reviewing this, you have no idea! Can't you tell? Let's go to it, y'all!
The Eye was once considered - and largely remains - one of the more important films from that era of "crossing over" that Asian ghost tales experienced around the time The Ring rocked the cinematic boat in 2002. It was given heaps of praise, not least of all because of its low budget and skilled non-Japanese cast and crew, and deservedly so since it's not merely good, but damned great, and has some of the most nuanced and subtle examples of scare imagery to come from any country in the region. Just thinking back on the train scene gives me the heebie-jeebies, and so yes, The Eye is brilliant, and warrants consideration for some time to come. The Eye 2, its immediate predecessor, is not, and does not. It is crap. It does not have a review on Snowblood Apple, and unless Mandi and Alex begin to suffer from dementia or we are in need of an April Fool's joke next year, it will likely never receive one. Whereas The Eye is a cautionary tale of inheritance and 'grass is greener' mythos, The Eye 2 is a third trimester pregnant woman attempting to commit suicide, and not dying, for two hours. I kid you not, scoffer!
I have reviewed some real crap before. What does one make of this little gem, then, The Eye 10, the (confusingly) third entry into this obviously balanced and articulate series of films? Well, firstly, if you are me, and you have to take the American interstate system to work every day, then the I-10 is a hellish motorway that traumatizes your senses by merely existing. And in many ways The Eye 10 is as well. I have so many things to say about this movie, I can hardly contain myself. Here we go, people! Exclamation marks, everyone!
Imagine it: there is a young woman lying on a floor asleep in a strange place. Kids these days. She is surrounded by what appear to be monks, holding a string that encircles her body, who begin chanting. Then the woman wakes up, which, duh, that's what happens when you try to sleep in a room with chanting monks. Then she levitates, which, you know, that perhaps is not what normally happens, I wouldn't know, I don't attend the Church of Confusing Opening Scenes In Films. The monks go on chanting, perhaps in a bid to exorcise her of her demons, perhaps to talk over what stupid things might come out of her mouth since young people are dumb, and would you believe she has the audacity to spin around in a circle slapping an overgrown tongue against their faces and generally being unpleasant, just like you would expect someone of the Twitter generation to. The nerve. If you stifle a teenager's words, I suppose something horrible has to come out of their mouths. And then it just sort of ends.
And now a title sequence. Whoa ho ho, what in the hell is this sweet ear candy? Oh my god, it's a brilliant pop song (I'll say)! I have no idea who performs this, and frankly, it wouldn't change my feelings, because this song is so cute and succinctly accompanies the imagery of our protagonists of this film, two Chinese boys, two Chinese girls, and one deceptively named Thai person, and their fun times at a local amusement park, riding rides, having great fun. I take back what I said, my hopes are up up up with this electronic confection written by the music Lord himself, from pop heaven. If the rest of this movie is as up and down as its first ten minutes, one might need a bucket for their disjointed emotional nausea. But it doesn't matter because despite what you are about read, this title sequence is very, very good, very campy and cheesy and just great, and I am very happy about this, perhaps more happy than I will ever be again in my life. And just like that, it ends. Too soon, I say, too soon. And that is how The Eye 10 starts. Are you excited yet? You should be! These two scenes have nothing to do with the rest of the movie!
The actual story of this film, which technically begins twelve minutes in, centers on Chongwai (MacDonald), whose friends are visiting from Hong Kong. They include a head of hair named Pop Idol (Chen), his cousin who wears the precise pair of glasses owned by every woman in the past thirty years to be called Nan (Yeung), Plot Contrivance (Gu), and Plot Contrivance's Girlfriend (Leong). Coming back from the amusement park-cum-museum of modern awesome muzak, their rickshaw/terror bus stops and picks up a lovely young woman and some horrifying children who basically are just holy terrors. Children are as terrible as teenagers! They keep the young people at bay with slingshots. Meanwhile Mr. Luscious Locks keeps shooting googly eyes at the young lady politely sitting across from him. Finally one of the devil children's pebbles lands square in the face of Pop Idol. Ha! Who says terrible films can't also have immediate payouts? LOVE IT. Shortly before this wonderful moment in history, they are all having a good time, generally being as annoying as young people possibly can be, when they pass a terrible accident, which naturally they film on their fancy video camera because that is what kids do in the modern world: they relish in things that are terrible, while having nice hair and ironic oversized glasses. And they cuss, all the time. Crap damn vagina!
Later the group relaxes late into the night at Chongwai's pad, where he lives with his mom, like a cool guy. For all intents and purposes his lines are dubbed over, so either this means that the actor was having a hard time speaking Cantonese, or he has a tiny girl's voice like David Beckham that the boom mic could not pick up. Unprovoked, and being young people, they begin telling ghost stories to each other. One involves a young girl who hears a banging in the night and when she looks out her dorm window at the basketball court outside the Japanese imperial army is waiting in zombie form for her! How smart of the Pangs to know that they'd need to rely on pot-stirring imagery to gain publicity in those rare and mythical places where farts are not the top selling point of a film. Modern Godards, those two. While Plot Contrivance's Girlfriend chows down on some ramen, Terrible Nan tells a terrible story about (deep breath)... a girl who choked on her noodles! Oh these kids, they're such cards, and they all laugh at how clever they are, those whipper-snappers! But seriously, that sodium will straight kill you.
Finally The Man With Two Voices presents a mystical book of ghost curses called The 10 Encounters (For The 3rd Movie). This supposedly old and ancient tome lists the ten ways a person can be given "the eye", and the first is a corneal transplant, which sounds very old and ancient to me. David Beckham whispers (David Beckham only ever whispers) not only is the book mysterious, the way he got it was as well. You see, he was in an unlit book store at two in the morning, and this bookstore was adjacent to a person's house, and an old man suddenly appeared when he picked up the book and the pensioner took it from him and sat down in his nearby kitchen and muttered to himself. Becks intimates this mysteriously, but this kind of seems like maybe it wasn't a book store at all, maybe that was just some guy's book shelf. In his own home. So the old man lets him take the book (what would you do?), and later that night while he is sleeping The Voice Of An Angel feels a sudden breeze come through the room and remembers that the old man whose house he broke into said he must never flip to the last page of the book he bought or something bad will happen. But the wind is too fast, his lithe frame too slow, and just as his hand slams down on the book it is too late, he has reached the last page, and, and, AND... he finds out he was price-gauged on his literary purchase. Well don't get upset, you just straight walked into that man's house and tried to buy something from his bookshelf! I threw my own ramen at the television at this point, because I was tired of all these ghost stories with ironic endings (young people! so ironic!), but luckily two hours in, the film finally started.
You can guess where it goes from here. They start following the other ways one gets "the eye" ('poking your own' is number 11) including making noise in an alley late at night, and walking around in the woods pissing on things, which all just sounds like standard activities for stupid people under the age of 20 to do regardless of expected ghost outcomes. Plot Contrivance finally goes missing, fulfilling his only purpose in life, and Girlfriend does the same, meaning four hours into this shindig our protagonists are a boy whose lines are being spoken by someone else, a member of Japanese idol group Kat-tun who traveled back in time from the band's mid-adulthood crisis reunion in 2015, and awful Nan. Awful, awful, awful Nan. Nan and Idol go back to Hong Kong, but the ghosts follow them, or something. I don't know, I was bored at this point, but towards the end some stuff happened involving the girl from the bus at the start being a ghost, and ghosts who breakdance with b-boys in the hallways of super creepy apartment buildings. Does any of this make sense? It doesn't really matter, I guess.
At the end of the day, this movie is not The Shining. Hell, it's not even the Sci-Fi Original Movie Shark Attack III: Megalodon (starring John Barrowman). It is a ghost story whose sole purpose seems to be to crack my head like an egg with the mind-blowing setup that young people are terrible and stupid and have dumb looking facial hair. And yes, they do keep ghosts at arm's length by farting, but why should ghosts be any different than the rest of us who don't want to smell your farts. God, kids are so dumb. And the Pang Brothers, they're dumb too. It's great to know that one of the best films of the Asian Horror Wave at the turn of this here century was merely a fluke, that had they had more of a budget they would have hired pin-ups dressed in American Apparel shirt rags to flail about for two hours and waste my damn time. This movie made me feel old, not at all like the twenty-two year old I actually am, but more like the sixty year old grandparents I live with (I'm also a cool guy, where are all my shrill, hip friends?), yelling at the television, just not "getting it" in any capacity. My guess, if I had to make one, is that the Pangs thought, what the hell, let's make some money for once since this high-art thing hasn't worked out what with all the pregnant women jumping off of buildings not winning any Palme d'Ors, and I hope they did.
Had any real effort been made in this whole affair, it would certainly have been undermined by the cast. These skinsuits are so damn uncomfortable with one another, especially Mr. MacDonald who has a perpetually confused/vaguely smug look in every scene that literally says to the audience, "I know what is coming next because I read the script, for you see I am an ac-TOR!" All in all it's a non-event for all involved, and aside from some bangin' eighties electro-pop there is very little to be gained from the experience. If you are looking for a reason to hate teenagers (as if you needed one, chortle) or you needed validation that yes, in fact, hipster culture exists outside of the US and Europe and it is just as if not more terrible, then have at it. The Eye 10 is your jam, and I hope you and your flatulence at least have each other, in hell.
Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Gross-outs: peeing on a child, who is also a ghost
Sex: none, which is a surprise, usually these things sort of go hand in hand
Years aged in single viewing: 40, maybe 50; I'm feeling ornery, and want to watch Antiques Roadshow all of the time from now on.
Films in a Similar Style: The long-forgotten thorn The Heirloom seems one and the same in retrospect
*** Crap damn vagina!! ***
Snowblood Apple Filmographies
Oxide Pang Chun
http://www.lovehkfilm.com/reviews_2/eye_10.htm Love HK Film penned some words to accompany this artistic achievement
http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2008/01/31/film-dvd-review-the-eye-10/ Steve astutely says, "The film stumbles and falls as if struck blind" - zing!
http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/33671/eye-3-the/ DVD Talk reviews the US home video release The Eye 3; in Alex and Mandi Land (the UK) this movie is called The Eye Infinity, which is about what it feels like
http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=11203&TitleParentId=5021 Lion's Gate's site has a trailer up for viewing, in case you needed evidence that such a film was actually made and distributed internationally.