|Available at Amazon.com|
Although The Eye movies are typically labeled as horror, they don’t necessarily fit the mold. Most horror movies have some kind of ghost, ghoul, or monster that enters into a protagonist’s life and throws everything into chaos. The supernatural is almost always treated as something dark, malefic, and dangerous. It doesn’t belong in this world and is clearly a threat to everyone and everything we hold dear. The hero’s job in these movies is to find some way to destroy this abomination and return the world to the safe, rational place we all wish it would be. However, Danny and Oxide Pang’s Eye trilogy is different; the focus isn’t on the protagonist destroying the supernatural, but on the protagonist’s reaction to the supernatural. This may seem like a fine distinction, but it makes a world of difference and is what sets this series apart from other ghost movies.
In many ways, The Eye 3 is a departure from the first two. Now, one of the great things about this series is that the Pang Brothers don’t repeat themselves; besides some basic similarities, The Eye and The Eye 2, are significantly different, but The Eye 3 is even more so. Instead of a single female character becoming introduced to the spirit world through an accident, we now have a group of characters who purposefully attempt to see ghosts.
Tak, May, April, and Ko Fei travel from Hong Kong to Thailand to visit April’s cousin Chong. They spend most of the day traveling the countryside, visiting amusement parks, and generally acting like teenagers on a vacation. That night they start telling ghost stories (and even mention the two women from The Eye 1 and 2), and Chong takes out a book he found in a creepy, dilapidated bookstore. The book’s title is The Ten Encounters and it instructs on the ten ways a person can see a ghost. The kids decide to make a game out of the book and see how many of them can see a ghost using the methods. Unfortunately, things go terribly wrong during a midnight game of hide and seek and one of the teens goes missing. The group disbands after that, but they find that they can’t quit the game so easily.
In some ways this sounds like the start of any generic teen slasher movie, and under the direction of anyone but the Pang Brothers, it could very well have turned out that way. Instead, though, the movie explores how these characters react to being thrust into a frightening new world where everything they thought they knew doesn’t apply anymore. That’s where the horror comes from. There are plenty of downright disturbing, creepy moments in The Eye 3, but the suspense and terror stems from uncertainty, of not knowing what to do or who to trust.
The interesting thing about The Eye movies is that the supernatural is treated like something that is natural. These teens are thrust into a strange, dangerous place between our world and the spirit world, but you always get the sense that this other side has always been there, that it’s a part of the natural scheme of things. When the teens break that boundary between these two worlds, they become unnatural because they weren’t meant to straddle that line, and they don’t know how to handle it. In an odd way, they become the monsters.
Although each movie in the trilogy shares this same sense of the natural supernatural, one aspect of The Eye 3 that truly sets it apart from the other two is the inclusion of humor. There are some genuinely funny moments in this movie, including probably the best breakdance competition/possession scene I’ve ever seen. The comedy was a little jarring at first considering its absence in the previous movies, but they work for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on except to say that it really seemed like the filmmakers were having fun with it and that translated to the film.
One other thing that makes this movie different from the others is its self-referential nature. The first two methods in The Ten Encounters were covered in the first two Eye movies, and there are several call backs to events from those movies. In some ways this makes it feel like the end of the series, like this is a culmination of everything that happened before.
The movie was presented in Widescreen 1.78:1 format and there were no discernable flaws with the production. There were two audio channels, Chinese 5.1 Dolby Digital, and Chinese 2.0 Dolby Digital. I listened to the 5.1 version and found no problems with the sound. The sound effects came through clearly and there was some nice directionality to the production.
In addition to the two sound channels, there were English and Spanish subtitles, and English Closed Captions. As near as I could tell, the translation was fine.
Ten Ways to See Ghosts (running time: 8:11)
This featurette covers the ten methods for seeing ghosts outlined in the book The Ten Encounters. Most of them come from ancient Thai traditions and Hong Kong urban myths. Interesting, but I would have liked more information on the traditions than eight minutes could cover. On a side note, the filmmakers refer to this as The Eye Infinity, which I guess was either the title during production or its International title.
The Making of The Eye 3 (running time: 8:03)
This is pretty much your standard “making of” featurette. What was interesting, though, is that the filmmakers pretty much consider this The Eye 10, but instead of covering each method in a single movie, they decided to take the remaining eight and use them in this one. Again, this makes me think that this is the final movie in the series.
Also From Lionsgate (cumulative running time: 5:45)
Previews for Midnight Meat Train; the website Fearnet.com; The Eye 2; Three Extremes; and the Jessica Alba version of The Eye.
It’s not perfect, but this is a fun, interesting movie from two very good filmmakers. Fans of the Pang Brothers should check this out. Recommended.
Applause Pictures presents The Eye 3. Directed by The Pang Brothers. Starring Chen Bo Lin, Isabella Leong, Kate Yeung, Kris Gu, Ray McDonald, and Bongkoth Kongmalai. Written by Mark Wu. Running time: 86 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: June 24, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.