haunting all the way down to marginally amusing. The
Eye films, products of those wunderkind Pang
Brothers, have consistently gone downhill since 2002's
stellar The Eye, leading up to this year's
frightfully silly The Eye 10. So what's the
problem? Are the Pang Brothers only one-trick wonders?
Or has the idea of seeing dead people simply run its
course? The answer probably skews towards the latter,
as the Pang Brothers do show enough style and verve
to warrant even more money thrown at them (though
maybe not in the comedy genre). Also, The Eye 10
has its merits style-wise, and the filmmakers should
get some credit for trying to shake up their formula.
However, if the forumla for Eye 10 is repeated
ad nauseum, then Eye 11, Eye 15, or
Eye 69 don't sound very appealing.
The previous Eye films had solo female leads; not this time. The Pang
Brothers (who also co-wrote Eye 10 with Mark
Wu) go the youth route and enlist a passel of young
actors for a supposedly creepy journey to Thailand.
Wilson Chen (Blue Gate Crossing, Twins Effect
II) leads the pack as Ted, a typical Hong Kong
slacker vacationing with cousin May (Kate Yeung of 20 : 30: 40), pal Gofei (Kris Gu), and Gofei's
girlfriend April (EEG starlet Isabella Leong). The
group is visiting the homeland of Thai buddy Chongkwai
(Ray MacDonald), which means fun in the sun and plenty
of teen hijinks. On a dark night, the quintet begin
telling ghost stories, and Chongkwai offers up his
special invitation: to make their own ghost stories.
Duh, they agree, and the problems begin.
But not right away.
Chongkwai introduces his "seeing ghosts"
offer as a game, inspired by a mysterious book that
he bought from a shady bookseller. The book details
the "10 Encounters," i.e., the ten methods
enabling humans to see ghosts. The first two are "The
Case of the Cornea Transplant" and the "Case
of Attempting Suicide While Pregnant" — obvious
references to Eye 1 and Eye 2, complete
with stock footage of Angelica Lee and Shu Qi from
those films. Those two methods are not attempted by
the kids, but the rest — a Ouija board, playing "Hide
N' Seek" with a black cat, offering a midnight
meal on the streets — are fair game, as the kids try
their hardest to see ghosts and presumably scare the
bejesus out of themselves.
plan works; they see ghosts and freak themselves out,
though their fright isn't translated to the audience.
The ability to see ghosts seems to be completely non-threatening,
which actually echoes the previous Eye movies,
where the spirits were bad mojo, but nothing more.
Despite their freaky, pale appearance and accompanying
pulse-pounding soundtrack, the ghosts never really
hurt anyone. That knowledge wasn't necessarily given
in the beginning of those films, so tension and some
fright was still possible, but in Eye 10 seeing
ghosts seems like just a way to pass the time with
your buddies. This doesn't stay true for the whole
film, but even then the scares barely register.
Here's one reason why: these
kids are largely uninteresting. Wilson Chen and Kate
Yeung are both promising young actors, but their characters
are one-dimensional and don't engender much sympathy.
The most difficult part is probably given to Isabella
Leong, who brings lightweight photogenic appeal to
the increasingly distraught April. She gets all freaked
when bad stuff starts to happen, but still not much
tension is added. One problem is that the proliferation of
throwaway gags and jokes that get in the way of a
consistent frightening tone. Humor in horror pictures
is actually welcome because it can provide some relief
from the omnipresent doom and gloom. However, the
jokes in Eye 10 either stretch on for way too
long, or are lowbrow sophomoric stuff that would be
better served in a Wong Jing movie. When the characters
start farting as a way to ward off ghosts, it pretty
much seals the deal; Eye 10 is a sometimes
effective, but unfortunately silly motion picture.
The good stuff: production
values, the overwrought and sometimes bombastic soundtrack,
and even some well-directed moments. The scenes in
Hong Kong where Ted and May begin to spy ghosts are
vintage Pang Brothers, and echo some of the creepier
moments from the original Eye. However, despite
the effective direction, the scenes are completely
undermined by the ultimate silliness of everything,
and even the "10 Encounters" can get comical.
One of the prescribed ghost-seeing methods is to bend
over and look between your legs. Even in a serious
horror picture, that method is probably a little too
silly, but in the wacky, unaffecting world of Eye
10, it's just more silly stuff on an already egregious
silly heap. Eye 11, 12, 14 or 2046 may be better, but let's hope they shake
all the silly stuff out. (Kozo 2005)