Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Child's Eye 3D (Tung Ngaan / 童眼)

We Can See Ghosts

The Pang Brothers Oxide and Danny have never shied away from the employment of technology for their films, and their works such as Recycle and The Storm Warriors are clear testament to that. With 3D technology making headway in cinemas and translating directly to higher box office grosses, it's without a doubt that the writing-directing duo's next film would be in 3D, employed in what I thought was a rather safe approach in applying it to their ongoing The Eye franchise which has probably built up a fan base.

With starlets such as Anjelica Lee, Kate Yeung, Isabella Leong and Shu Qi becoming the scream queens of the earlier installments, the Pang Brothers turn to current Taiwanese pop princess Rainie Yang to carry the film on her lithe shoulders, with the support of Hong Kong cast members such as Shawn Yue playing Lok the boyfriend of Rainie's character of the same name, Elanne Kwong who's dolled up pretty much like Rainie with her shoulder length hair playing Rainie's best pal Ling, Ciwi Lam as Ciwi (note the laziness here) the third female member of the group whom with their respective boyfriends Hei (Izz Xu) and Rex (Rex Ho), find themselves stuck in the middle of a Bangkok protest which had led to the closure of the airport. How's that for some art mimicking life, with the film shot in and post produced in some aspects by Thai folks, the country in which the Pang Brothers started out in with Bangkok Dangerous.

Stranded, a cab driver brings the three couples to a run down motel for accommodation while waiting for the demonstrations to come to an end, but the owner of the place (played by a scruffy looking Lam Kar Tung) harbours some deep dark secret which forms the basis of the spookfest, as well as owning a motel that is ripe for a scary, mazy exploration. Also, like Paranormal Activity 2, there are kids and animals (in this case also a dog which actually features quite prominently in the film as a ghost tracker) who many believe are more susceptible to actually experiencing and seeing ghouls and goblins, and hence the title which plays on this with a nicely designed “3D” words built into the Chinese character design.

Thankfully the 3D effects go beyond just the subtitles, and is more than worthy of its 3D tag since it has some incredible 3D design and sequences crafted in mind to maximize and exploit the technology, aside from an extremely rich depth of field in almost every frame. Sure there are some tools of the scary trade that have been one of the most overused props such as the moving chair (PA2, Haunted Changi and now this), and the sudden flights and movements that fly right into your face, although with 3D, the latter gets to ramp up its scare factor by many notches up. Trust me it's hard not to flinch a little and I tip my hats to a job well done, besides successfully combining CG to bring about at least 2 notable scenes boasting a scary, creepy atmosphere.

Rainie Yang doesn't fare too bad as the resident scream queen in this film, although her character isn't one who will sit back and relax, or turn out to be the damsel in distress exercising her vocal chords. Her character is quite the tough cookie in wanting to get down to the bottom of the mystery, and quite the determined friend to want to rescue her buddies as compared to the other girlie girls, except that her sweetie pie image sometimes get in the way to provide that tinge of disbelief that someone like her will actually dig down and get her hands dirty.

It's a simple story built upon one of the Asian urban legends about how pregnant women should watch for their behaviour, and should they exhibit an unkind intent some karmic retribution will be at play and the outcome passed on to their unborn child. Here it takes it quite literally when cooking up the basis of which the ghouls existed, although from a more personal heresy this does hold some water, and that's essentially what creeps me out more than what the film had put out.

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