Child's Eye

Title: Child's Eye
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Ghost Horror
Starring: Shawn Yue, Ka Tung Lam, Jo Kuk
Director: Pang Brothers
Language: Chinese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #8

For those who aren't aware of their body of work, they've risen in recent years as the Chinese Horror champions, bringing a touch of psychological 'Ju-on' like scares to the screens most notably with 'The Eye,' (as well as The Eye II and III, but lets not dwell on the negatives for too long) which to the unobservant could easily slip into some 'best of J-Horror' lists. Child's Eye sounds a little like it's trying to cash in on the name even though it has nothing to do with their past work; telling the tale of six friends stranded on holiday in Bangkok, Thailand, riots having closed off the airport, and they are granted little choice but to hole up in a dilapidated hotel. They aren't there long when mysterious events start happening; things begin moving of their own accord and soon three of the party all mysteriously disappear, and the shifty hotel owner knows something but refuses to discuss the matter.

If you've ever seen the aforemented 'the Eye' or 'Ju-on: The Grudge' then in terms of the ghost that if you hadn't twigged, is made abundantly clear in the opening moments haunts the residence, is standard Asian fare; the long straggly hair and dirty, sticky substance all over her loose fitting clothes and the other effects that come along with it. The acting does as is required, with the protagonist, largely only needing to go from place to place and is given little room to show her prowess, and only the hotel owner really delivers on a noteworthy performance in straddling the line he has to tread so as to arouse our suspicion but not give too much away. It doesn't do anything to break the mould for the most part but the use of lighting and effects is never short of astounding; the manner movement will catch the corner of your eye but never quite come into the forefront, and the use of flashes of images to surprise you and attempt to make you jump out of your skin has rarely felt sharper and the use of 3D here has clearly gone to obvious work. There are points where the music doesn't quite fit, being too sudden and loud early on to give it anywhere to build up to, but the rest of the cinematography makes this shortfall a minor issue.

I initially liked this film, but as time wore on it graduated to 'well its alright.' Now I've thought about it a bit more, thought about the revelation ended on and the voyage taken to get there and I feel rather cheated. There are enough loose ends to give a hairdresser a field day; there are half man half dogs whose creation are left to your imagination – the mental images I can conjure from this are worse than half the actual film – and a twist that clearly aims for an empathetic 'you assumed wrong' strike but when it hits, that initial wave of shock as you reel back in understanding for the sad reality passes once you realise that actually, it's still all a little bit messed up. Their flair for creating horror out of every scene has never been sharper than here, but they forgot that one element that made it work: simplicity. It gets too complex too quickly; a slow and tense build-up whilst you're pondering what on earth is going on is never all that effective, and it's not helped that the film leaves so many questions unanswered. So why is it a 2.5 "meh" and not lower? Three cute Chinese girls in very short skirts. 'nuff said.


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