Posted on 6/16/10 05:40 PM
The Eye 2
dir. Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang
The Eye 2 plays on the hysteria a young woman experiences upon discovering that she is pregnant.
The film opens in Thailand with Joey Chang (Shu Qi) muddling about the mall spending all her money to clear her head. She goes back to her hotel and proceeds to take handfuls of sleeping medication ostensibly because things aren't working out with her boyfriend Sam (Jesdaporn Pholdee). She doesn't die and ends up in the hospital with her stomach pumped. She learns that she is pregnant and starts to see strange people lurking about. In particular there is one woman who Joey later learns is the spirit of Sam's dead wife who threw herself in front of a train because he wouldn't give Joey up. The film uses the condition of reincarnation to explain that the spirit wants to enter the body of the child in order to forget the horrors of it's previous life.
The film does a decent job in establishing tension between the spirits and the living. Although they aren't particularly terrifying, the ghosts have a certain creepiness about them that is effectively rendered. Shu Qi is quite charming as a woman put into great distress by phenomena that only she can experience. Once Joey realizes the intentions of this woman she sees she decides it would be better for all concerned if she killed herself. However, the spirit will not let her die and a long, hard jump from the top of the hospital bruises and scratches her but doesn't kill her. The most riveting sequence in the film involves Joey gamely crawling back up the stairs of the hospital to have another go at it. Another jump proves the same result and she is left crying out of frustration and self-pity.
Childbirth as a source of horror has it's precedents; most notably in David Cronenberg's The Brood. Here the body is merely a vehicle for potentially evil spirits or spirits who haven't entirely been washed clean of their past. It is the latter that seems to effect Joey most strongly. She is terrified of bringing a child into the world with the soul of a suicide although she tries desperately to end her own life with the baby nearly full term. Joey is routinely haunted in various locales by images of disembodied beings floating mysteriously about or appearing in public where Joey goes temporarily mad attempting to get them to vacate. It's interesting that Joey is presented as entirely crazed on occasion because it suggests a strong link between pregancy and hysteria (womb madness).
Overall, this film plays as a straight drama with supernatural touches. It is only somewhat a horror film in that the basic premise is the horror of being invaded and possessed. Still, there are lengthy stretches of time where the integral aspects of the horror are suppressed in order to explore more conventional methods of story telling. Many scenes are claustrophobic and match the confusion and grief of Joey as she attempts to understand the nature of those instances that plague her with impunity. The fact that reincarnation, a fast-held belief by a considerable percentage of the world population, is used in this manner suggests that this type of scenario might be more common that initially considered. Subsequently, the real horror of this story is that, if reincarnation is true, many people will be subject to similar invasions of unwanted spirits attempting to disabuse themselves of previous incarnations.