Let me take you back to the early noughties, a time when the horror film industry was all rather low. The Scream clones were all but worn out and the future was somewhat bleak. There were a few glimmers on the horizon with the likes of Jeepers Creepers (2001), and at a push I'll admit to Final Destination (2000), but even these were relying on the 'teen' formula. So where was any self respecting horror to turn? The answer was the East. The Asian horror film had yet to make a big breakthrough to the west, but this was all due to change with Miikes' Audition (1999), a film that opened the flood gates to the wealth of untapped, undiluted horror films that an unsuspecting horror starved west just lapped up. With such giants as The Ring (1998), Ju-on (2000) and Dark Water (2002) (all, incidentally, now remade for the west) having one thing in common, they were genuinely frightening, something the west had failed to do for years! In amongst these there was a smaller film from the Pang brothers called The Eye (2002). It too was as frightening as any of the above, at least in the beginning; in fact I consider the 'lift scene' the most claustrophobic and frightening pieces of film I've ever seen. But it does suffer from the M. Night Shyamalan's problem; that the scare factor drops dramatically once you realise what is going on. However, The Eye was hugely successful in its native land and has spawned two sequels the third of which, The Eye 10, is tonight's feature presentation.
Five teenage friends that are happy go lucky thrill seekers are witness to the aftermath of a dreadful accident and one videos the poor unfortunate as they pass it on a buss. Later that evening, after some food and beer they start to try to scare one another by telling chilling stories. One such story is about a book titled the '10 Encounters' that someone in the group picked up in a store; its premise is the ten different ways to see ghosts. The first two neatly encompass the first two films, but the other eight are all new. The group then take it upon themselves to try out some of these encounters to see if they can see ghosts. At first things move rather slowly, but soon their encounters become ever more frightening, ever more numerous until the group starts to get broken up as one by one the ghosts draw them into their limbo world. In a daring move to rescue their friends two of the group attempt the final encounter and voluntarily enter the limbo world, all they have to do is find their friends and then escape to the light in time......
Let me say right from the off that this film is not a patch on the original. It makes more than a few mistakes all of which derail the horror of the story and once that happens all that is left is a bore. Quite obviously the film has been targeted towards the teen audience, and like its western counterparts fails to engage in anything other than base humour. Talking of humour, the attempts made here are crass and vulgar or just plain don't work and this is nothing to do with culture differences; possessed break dancing and farting to ward of ghosts is not funny in any language. But worse than this, the Pang brothers seem to have lost the art of scaring; gone is the lengthy build up, gone is the tension, gone is the payoff, all to be replaced by too much too soon. There are one or two scenes where their earlier work shines through, long lenses and creepy atmosphere; witness the underground 'umbrella' scene or the bouncing ball in the apartment corridor. Yet both these scenes ultimately fail because the music chosen becomes all too intrusive. Yet other creepy scenes are spoilt before that can get going by the aforementioned 'humour' which does nothing but pull one out of the film. All this and obvious ideas taken from other films, even their own; the shaking book pages from Donnie Darko, an elevator scene lifted straight from their own Eye but without the terror. Finally there are a number of plot points that are raised to fantastic effect and then quite suddenly dropped; the appearance of a girl that follows one of our group around works really effectively and when we discover why it works well, only to be dropped without explanation or closure!
Now all this is bad, and I am quite prepared to admit I maybe slightly over reacting because The Eye is one of my favourite movies and this effort did nothing but spoil my reflections of it. If taken by itself then perhaps one could gain a little satisfaction, there are some nice twists and turns in the plot and a nice rounding up final scene, if not totally original; it has a rocket pace for the MTV generation and at 84 minutes shouldn't demand much from the viewer, a teen horror comedy at its most evident, watchable but uneventful and pretty inoffensive. But in the end I found the film all rather sad; a terrific idea very badly told and one that could and probably has destroyed the franchise; no way this one will ever be scheduled for a Hollywood remake.
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