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Original Title:
Gin gwai 2

Hong Kong 2004

Horror, Drama

Oxide Pang Chun
Danny Pang

Shu Qi
Jesdaporn Pholdee
Eugenia Yuan
Philip Kwok
Derek Tsang
Rayson Tan
May Phua
Alan Tern
San Yow

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The Eye 2

Story: Joey (Shu Qi) gets dumped by her boyfriend Sam (Jesdaporn Pholdee). Joey is thereafter plagued by serious depression and eventually tries to take her life. She survives and is giving her best to get her life back on track. But something is wrong. It seems that she is now able to see people others can't, until she finally realizes that she can see ghosts... As if this weren't enough, she also gets the news that she is pregnant. She considers an abortion, but eventually decides to keep the baby.
Joey just can't get used to seeing ghosts and is especially concerned because of a woman's ghost, who always seems to be at her side. Seeking answers Joey visits a priest, who tells her that her pregnancy, as well as her near-death experience are the reason why she is suddenly able to see ghosts everywhere. But what does the woman's ghost want from her? Is it going to hurt her baby? Joey looks for answers by investigating the woman's past, and finds out that the woman's background is in fact closely connected to her own.

Review: "The Eye 2" could actually surprise me after having read many rather negative reviews about the movie. While I found the hymns of praise for the first part a bit too much, I consider the words some critics tear this sequel apart with too harsh. The film's biggest flaw, however, is its title. The Pang Brothers have the judiciousness not to simply rehash the story of the first part, but instead come up with a completely new one, which has no relation to the first installment, except that the main protagonist can see ghosts, of course. That's a good choice made by the directors, but then again you have to ask yourself why they gave the movie the title "The Eye 2". Without a doubt this was out of marketing purposes, and no other reason, which wasn't such a good idea of the Pangs, because many fans of the first part will have great expectations this movie will have to live up to.

You can't easily say that "They Eye" can't reach the quality of the first part. It's just that the movie is sadly not near as creepy as its predecessor. Which is most likely the film's biggest downside. The Pang Brothers may still provide us with some shocking moments every now and then, but except of some music which volume suddenly bursts as soon as a ghost appears, there isn't much to be seen horror-wise. Only one certain scene is pretty well done, and it takes place at a bus stop, when a boy and his mother suddenly hit the asphalt with a nauseating sound and, with only half a face and body left, turn towards our protagonist, trying to tell her something. This is at the same time also the most bloody scene in the movie and nothing anyone with a weak stomach should be watching.
In general, the film strongly lives and breathes because of its atmosphere, which is something the Pang Brothers did an impressive job with once again. Still, there is one question that keeps popping up: Why is Joey still crying out loud when she sees a ghost, even though she is seeing them for months already and should have gotten used to them.

But let's get back to the atmosphere, which is astonishingly tense at times, and works so well because of the nice cinematography the Pangs bestow upon their work. It's really apparent that the Brothers improved their eye for the right pictures and learnt quite a few tricks since their first installment. And they know how to make use of it. There is one specially intense and disturbing scene in an elevator, with which the Pangs don't really want to quote themselves, but which just happens to take place in an elevator (once again), because this kind of confined room and the mental stress of the situation can easily raise the horror factor exponentially. Joey isn't alone in the elevator, but has to watch how some nurses are trying to help a mother give birth to her child in a stuck elevator. For many moviemakers this might be enough to create some tension, but not for the Pangs. A ghost suddenly emerges, who seemingly wants to hurt the baby - while Joey herself has an unexpected bleeding. A very tense and creepy scene, which however remains the only one of this kind and level of horror. There may be some more tense moments, which as already stated mainly stand out because of the beautiful pictures of the Pangs, but all in all the film proves to be not nearly as creepy as it could have been.

In fact, you oftentimes get the feeling to be watching a drama with a little bit of supernatural ingredients thrown in. Especially the first scene including Joey's suicide attempt, the story revolving around her boyfriend, and the resolution of the film provide more emotional cinema than goose bumps. That's sad, because this just isn't how it is supposed to be in a flick that is titled as being horror. They filmmakers just chose a wrong focus on their story. Moreover, the emotional scenes can't really touch you. We never suffer along with Joey. She simply remains a movie character, meaning that there is always a certain distance between her and the audience. That's unfortunate, because Shu Qi ("So Close", "My Wife is a Gangster 3") really delivers an impressive performance. She has to carry the whole movie on her shoulders, as she is constantly in the spotlight of the film, and she does so seemingly effortlessly. She plays this unstable character with depression as convincing as she does during the many shocking moments, when she once again has to face a ghost. And thus, it is simply the script's fault, that we have no emotional link to her.

What's really preventing me from giving the film a thumbs up, however, is the last third. The ending may be unusual for a horror movie, yet this is also very refreshing. Anyway, what's really annoying is that Joey is still fleeing from the ghost that haunts her, and even tries to find salvation by committing suicide once again, although a priest already told her what ghosts actually want. From this moment on, without spoiling too much, the script has deprived the story of any frightening factor. Only Joey keeps panically running away. Why? What the hell is Joey afraid of, and why is she behaving in such an inappropriate manner? As for my part, I couldn't find any answer to that...
"The Eye 2" is more of a drama than a horror film. Sadly, it provides only few creepy moments, but makes up for it with an intense atmosphere as not to be expected otherwise by the Pang Brothers. For a horror movie the story is also quite good and can deliver more than just your usual "ghost with long black hair seeks revenge" plot. If there just weren't the incredibly illogical behavior of the protagonist towards the end.
Still, "The Eye 2" provides nice entertainment and is a lot better than its somewhat bad reputation may lead you to believe.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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