The Eye 2 (Gin gwai 2)

Rating 3½

Directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang Fat

Written by Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui and Lawrence Cheng (story)

Starring Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan, Jesdaporn Pholdee, Philip Kwok, Ren Yuan Yuan, Rayson Tan and Kwok Cheung Tsang

Depressed that her relationship with Sam (Jesdaporn Pholdee) seems to be disintegrating, Joey Cheng (Qi Shu) attempts suicide by taking a drug overdose during a stay in Thailand, a cry for help rather than serious intent. When she returns to Hong Kong she discovers that she is pregnant, but Sam refuses to return her calls. As the pregnancy progresses, her precarious state of mind becomes even more fragile when she starts to have hallucinations, seeing ghostly apparitions that become ever more horrific, which eventually leads her to seek guidance from a Buddhist master (Philip Kwok).

The second film in a trilogy made by the Pang Brothers, ‘The Eye 2’ bears no direct relationship with its predecessor and is, in effect, an entirely unrelated film in every respect, except for the title. The only link is the shared underlying theme of suicide.

I thought it was a rather strange and fascinating film. For the first 30 minutes or so it actually works as an interestingly icy and disengaged study of a suicidal young woman who is clearly seriously depressed. Once the supernatural element of the story becomes more pronounced, the film begins to develop an increasing aura of menace that slowly builds. This begins with an attempted rape, a scene that was quite perturbing, and builds up through scenes such as the one when a patient goes into premature labour in a hospital elevator. There are some genuine shock moments to be had here, although I didn’t view it as a horror, but rather as a study of someone apparently suffering from an ever-worsening mental breakdown.

I was very taken by the performance of Qi Shu. Her entry at IMDb states that she has a “manic” acting style that has led to criticism of her acting in the past. I have no idea what this means and I did not gain that impression from watching her here.

I do not particularly hold with the central premise, taken from Buddhist teachings, that we are here to suffer and must see our individual journeys through to their conclusion so that we may be reincarnated and suffer all over again – the concept of suicide as a sin. That doesn’t make the film any less interesting.

Unfortunately, it does start to drag a little bit in its closing scenes, and belabours its ultimate message, and for that I have reduced the rating from 4 to 3½.

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