Fear Street: Part Three -1666 (2021)

Fear Street: Part Three – 1666 (2021)

Director (and co-writer): Leigh Janiak

Cast: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Elizabeth Scopel, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Matthew Zuk, Fred Hechinger, Michael Chandler, McCabe Slye

The origins of Sarah Fier’s curse are finally revealed as history comes full circle on a night that changes the lives of Shadysiders forever. IMDB

Picking up right after Part Two, Part Three takes a turn as it changes its tone and style from the slasher genre (at least the first part) into a more slow-paced 17th century superstitious supernatural setting. In some ways, it takes a similar approach to films like The Witch where it plays a lot on its characters and the sudden bad omens that bestow what used to be Shadyside. This last part of the trilogy takes it back to the beginning and origin of how this Sarah Fier curse all started before heading into Part 2 of 1994 as its big finale as the current day situation tries to be solved. Part Three is structured to build up the big reveal of what this curse is all about and how it started and then the big finale so it really does complete a full circle of events. The contrast between the first half set in 1666 and the second half where its the continuation of the Part One in 1994 is very apparent but also what makes this one rather intriguing as well.

Looking at the 1666 origin story, Part Three takes a rather different route in both tone and atmosphere and it has to do with the setting in time. That’s of course a given. Plus, in contrast with the previous two parts, it does take a turn. The soundtrack also changes to something more of an orchestral soundtrack with more classical sounding music to match the times. The dialogue also shifts over while the story switches to a small town mentality towards the suspicions of witchcraft causing the town to be cursed because Sarah Fier does things against the religious teachings.

There’s some familiar character structures even for these types of films and they are introduced using the familiar faces from the previous parts and even perhaps how characters in their past lives are very similar to how they are in their other lives. Its a pretty nice character building in that level to be able to callback to these characters in their different times. Stories that start off more slow paced and reserve do usually boost up very well in its peak of events and reveal as this comes to a nice twist of who is cause of this Sarah Fier curse and giving clues to Deena who had been embodied in Sarah Fier in 1666 to figure out a way to end all this.

What makes the 1666 stand out is how its paired up with the 1994 continuation which brings to a very fun and fast-paced finale as not only the characters come together, giving Gillian Jacobs grown-up Ziggy from Part Two more screen time, but also a visual contrast dialing back to a neon color palette from its earthy tons in the past setting while also using its setting from Part Two and Part Three to all link back together from all the knowledge from travelling through to 1978 and 1666 and then finally bringing that back to 1994 as its big finale where all the elements piece everything back together.

Fear Street Part Three is a definite treat. The first part set in 1666 might not land as well for some due to its setting and the general tone those horror movies tend to have. Plus, the horror is still mostly not there except for the gore levels. However, the story does make up for a lot of this in its story and style to make it a lot of fun. Part Three brings it to a satisfying high point for its finale which is executed really well.

As a final thought on Fear Street trilogy event as a whole, it does work together really well. Plus, expanding a story into three weeks is also a good idea. Its almost like watching a TV series or mini-series but this one, each film wraps itself up well enough but still manages to leave some room for intrigue for the next film. If anything, Fear Street demonstrated the diversity of Leigh Janiak as a horror director as she moves through various styles of horror films but builds up the atmosphere to match up each element and keeps pretty well-rounded whether its as a teen Scream homage or a summer camp slasher or a old-time supernatural. The three films do piece together really well and it all dials down to execution and the events moving backwards to reveal its beginning in order to get to its end. Hopefully this is a start to Netflix building more stories around this sort of film event.

Fear Street: Part Two – 1978 (2021)

Fear Street: Part Two – 1978 (2021)

Director (and co-writer): Leigh Janiak

Cast: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Gillian Jacobs, Matthew Zuk, Kiana Madeira, Benjamin Flores Jr., Olivia Scott Welsh, Brandon Spink, Chiara Aurelia, Ted Sutherland

Shadyside, 1978. School’s out for summer and the activities at Camp Nightwing are about to begin. But when another Shadysider is possessed with the urge to kill, the fun in the sun becomes a gruesome fight for survival. – IMDB

Fear Street Part Two continues the first part as they seek out the one person who survived the 1978 Camp Nightwing situation. As she recounts the situation, the story plays out throughout the film following the Berman sisters, Ziggy and Cindy who are at summer camp and Cindy’s boyfriend Tommy ends up being possessed. Paying homage to movies like Friday the 13th, summer camp slashers are always a little campy and yet after the foundation building from Part One, Part Two steps it up a little. There’s more gore and the kills are done rather well, with some moments leaving the aftermath than the actual deed. There is a little more of a hunt and the areas range more as the Sarah Fier possession side (aka what I call the lore) dives deeper as the sisters learn quite a bit about it. They explore some nooks and cranny areas that really have quite the horror film aesthetic. The atmosphere and settings does give space for a little more tension to build up perhaps some anticipated fear even though, overall the film isn’t scary either but its a lot more heart pumping fun than the previous with more chase scenes and plays more like how you’d expect a summer camp massacre to play out.

Looking at Part Two, a lot of its credit goes into its characters. For one, how the 1994 ones who survived the Camp Nightwing situation was back in 1978 and gives their characters a background and development. On the other hand, the Berman sisters are shown with enough character development from the start to the finish that they make you want to cheer for them especially as they start off being such opposite characters. While their backstory isn’t a lot, its also not exactly necessary. Plus, it doesn’t sit around trying to hash out problems, they are more about the action. Their actions prove that while they differ in opinions on certain things and the changes that Cindy made that has also thrown Ziggy off, when push comes to the shove and the dangers appear, they are trying their best to get each other out of the mess even if it means making sacrifices for each other. A lot of the credit has to go to the female actresses Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd, who plays respectively Ziggy and Cindy. Part Two builds up a lot of the other characters, perhaps the most notable being the backstory of Nick Goode (as he is in Part One) and in part also how the Nightwing killer comes to be how he appears in 1994.

For the most part, Part Two is a pretty solid slasher but in reality, its a lot more than that. It dives further into the Sarah Fier story and from what we’ve seen, its playing out as an evil spirit and possession sort of story. The cuts between the two sisters explores those two dangers completely and they each piece together a different side of the puzzle. This one also takes a step further and adds more killers to the equation from the ones seen in the first part which is always fun. Part Two essentially sets the stage for Part Three so that when it ends in the 1994 continuation, they are able to put together the missing pieces from Part One and hopefully break this Shadyside curse and save whoever needs to be saved. Talking about 1994, I really do love seeing Gillian Jacobs even if this role is fairly little in this part.

Overall, Part Two is pretty much what you would expect from watching a trilogy going backward in events to piece things together as Part One is the end result and we get to see the progression of events that leads to it. Of course, that might also lead to some predictable moments and knowing the result of things might make it less intriguing to watch but Part Two does such a good job in execution that it isn’t really an issue here for the most part. Of course (for those that didn’t see the Part One review), I haven’t read the source material so maybe its less of a surprise of those who are more knowledgeable of the story. While the tone of the film doesn’t seem to change too much from the first to the second, it does focus much heavier on the violent slasher side and turns it up plus, the new decade setting also means the soundtrack changes to fun 70s music which also works well with its scenes. Part Two is definitely a fun one and a decent step up from its previous part.

Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021)

Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021)

Director: Leigh Janiak

Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Maya Hawke, David W. Thompson

A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside. – IMDB

Based on teenage book series by R.L. Stine, Fear Street is adapted as a film trilogy to be released over 3 weeks. The first one is set in the story in 1994 and oddly the trilogy goes backwards to part 2 in 1978 and part 2 in 1666. At first glance, it looks like a unique way to approach story telling and execution especially as its about diving into a lore looming over this town for centuries. While I do love Goosebumps, I have never read the source material or any of the Fear Street novels so this review is solely based on the film.

As the first film of a trilogy, 1994 sets the stage for the present scenario of how Shadyside is towards this evil presence and what brings it to life and whether it is possible to break out of the curse and how as the film follows the teens as they discover with a little trial and error. In the process it refers back to 1978 and 1666 which are the next two films in the trilogy, giving it both a link but also leaving anticipation for the mystery ahead. In some ways, it feels a little backwards and yet, it might work. Being a R.L. Stine adaptation though, it has a more horror comedy feeling to it and even for the killer itself feels almost like a parody or a homage. I’m not sure which its meant to be. With that said, the film isn’t too scary but has decent amount of blood considering it is a slasher film. The film score is full of 90s music which not only matches to the setting but also is a great fit for the different scenes.

The cinematography also deserves a mention. All the settings that the teens move through are great. The opening scene sets the tone and style of the film immediately using both the setting, the lighting and colors to create suspense and tension. The film moves through a good few locations from shopping mall to the school to outdoor areas. It moves rather quickly through its scene keeping it quick-paced and engaging.

However, Fear Street 1994 has some issues as well. Well, I guess one of the bigger problems might be the acting. There’s nothing wrong with the whole teen thing and in reality, playing teens gives a lot of forgiveness for saying weird and awkward stuff or even saying and doing things that don’t logically make sense. But, I do offer a lot of lenience personally on silly decisions in teen-focused films especially slasher.

Overall, Fear Street Part One is a decent start. If anything, it lays out the intrigue for the horror/mystery on hand, whatever you want to call it. However, for hardcore horror fans, I feel like the scary elements a little low but there is some gore. Plus, the setting and atmosphere is done really well along with the fantastic soundtrack, it really boosts the film up in enjoyability. As an ending thought, while I don’t have anything bad to say about it for the most part and I do look forward to the next part. I can’t help but feel like the film is a slightly forgettable in plot as it feels very familiar like a mesh of a few other popular things around (maybe that’s why it feels like a homage or parody either/or…I don’t watch enough parody to be able to tell).

Tranquil Dreams Podcast #19: What’s Up 2021 Week 26 & 27

Welcome to the next episode of Tranquil Dreams Podcast as we go back for a double week recap of Week 26 and Week 27. Two weeks for 2 reasons: The first to catch back up and second, Week 27 is a little it of completion of things starts in Week 26 so a good double week to do instead of pretending I didn’t finish and having to only wrap up the week after.

This episode, I talk about the first impressions of Want, a novel that I started and dive into an overview of the gaming franchise The Room before discussing its latest game, The Room 4: Old Sins finally ported to PC after 2 years released on mobile. In terms of movie, its a look at the new Netflix film Good on Paper and some rewatches and sequels while TV is a quick talk about my thoughts on the latest Netflix Chinese series The Rational Life as well as the second season of Too Hot to Handle and the first Amazon Prime series that I watched and finished obviously!

Thanks for listening and hope you enjoy!

Related Links

The Room – Game Review
The Room 2 – Game Review
The Eye – Film Review
The Eye 2 – Film Review
The First Purge – Film Review
She’s The Man – Friday Film Club
Good on Paper – Film Review

Music in the Episode:
There It Is by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4519-there-it-is
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Listen to the Show:
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Spotify
Google Podcasts
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TV Binge: Resident Evil : Infinite Darkness (Season 1, 2021)

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (Season 1, 2021)

Creator: Hiroyuki Kobayashi

Voice cast: Nick Apostolides, Ray Chase, Stephanie Panisello, Jona Xiao, Billy Kametz, Doug Stone, Joe Thomas, Brad Venable

Federal agent Leon S. Kennedy teams up with TerraSave staff member Claire Redfield to investigate a zombie outbreak. Based on the popular video game series of the same name by Capcom. – IMDB

Running at a swift 4 episodes of approximately 26 minutes each, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is probably the quickest and shortest TV binge that I’ve done as its about the length of an average movie so pretty much a one sitting sort of series. The premise of the story pulls away from being heavy on zombies but rather takes a turn for a more political conspiracy and investigative nature following two storylines. The first following Leon who is called in to be a part of a team that will investigate the recent hacking of internal systems and zombie outbreak in the White House and the second follows Claire Redfield who looks further into Penamstan’s civil war six years ago that might be a government cover-up for a zombie outbreak.

Most people come into a Resident Evil entry to see zombies and its not wrong but taking the side of padding out a bit more of the bioweapon backstory is pretty nice and moving away from Umbrella and focusing more on a political angle. Sure, there’s still zombies and action but this animated series proves that there is more stories to tell and so much more of this world that can be expanded on that can give it more depth. Not to mention, the animation is done so well, comparable to that of the recent game remakes, that it almost feels like a live action series. Not only the setting and locations but even the characters all look realistic. With that said, Leon has always been a good-looking guy but somehow this one, he seems even better (but then, I haven’t played Resident Evil 2 remake yet so it might be a similar model just a little aged as this is set between the Resident Evil 4 and 5 games).

Talking about the story and characters, the execution is well-structured. As the story progresses in the present story line, it almost going back to tell the story of the past for each of their new characters specifically Leon’s new teammates, Jason and Shen May as their story helps contribute to the current story but also helps their character development also. Each having their own motives as to why they are on the team and on this specific mission. Of course, Leon and Claire’s story is already fairly familiar to fans so its only touched upon quickly and not lingered on for a long time. Perhaps for new viewers to the franchise, it might leave them feeling less structured. However, the story itself is set years after their first appearance so doesn’t need too much backstory to support them although knowing about it will help connect with their characters better, considering new viewers won’t have the knowledge that these two are key and beloved characters in the games.

This is an animated series so voice cast is a big part of the immersion. Both Claire and Leon are voiced by the Resident Evil 2 Remake’s game voice cast, Stephanie Panisello and Nick Apostolides respectively. They both capture the two characters incredibly well. Voicing Jason is Ray Chase, a voice actor who has a lot of experience when looking at his extensive voice cast roles in many video games perhaps the biggest and recognizable as Noctis in Final Fantasy XV along with known roles other popular games like NieR: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, etc. Jason is a key character here and probably one that incurs the most change throughout especially as his back story is pretty intriguing. However, that’s not saying that the voice actress Jona Xiao voicing Shen May, who has less experience looking at her filmography doesn’t do a pretty solid job as well. There are some little moments that the characters, especially the political discussions where it feels a little over done but overall, the English voice casting is done really well.

Whether its character designs or the zombies and the atmosphere and setting for the overall show, its done incredibly well and keeps it paced quickly so it stays both entertaining and immersive to want to find out who is behind this and what is actually going on. In a franchise that feels like there’s been a lot of different directions that’s been taken both in the movies and the games itself, the series is refreshing because it reminds its viewers what the actual story is about. Sure, there’s zombies and there’s mutated big monsters and Umbrella but in the depth of all of this, its about the creation of bioweapons and the consequences that its brought to the world. This is a viral outbreak and how the world is handling it so it makes sense that this one strays further from being heavy on big zombie action scenes but goes back to focusing on the political side of the whole ordeal and the conflicts between countries so on and so forth.

Overall, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is an awesome series. Its short and sweet and a fantastic little binge. I’m a big fan of Resident Evil so I might be a little biased but looking at this new direction with some new characters, it shouldn’t be too hard for new viewers to the franchise to get into it the story either.

Good on Paper (2021)

Good on Paper (2021)

Director: Kimmy Gatewood

Cast: Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen, Margaret Cho, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Beth Dover, Kimia Behpoornia

After years of putting her career first, a stand-up comic meets a guy who seems perfect: smart, nice, successful and possibly too good to be true. – IMDB

When you go into a romantic comedy where its cast is full of comedians, its easy to assume that comedy will be probably prevail over its romance. Good On Paper is pretty much like that. Of course, comedy is subjective so its probably best to decide on the style based on how much you enjoy Iliza Shlesinger’s stand-up comedy. The story is a little ridiculous but considering that its inspired from something that actually happened to Iliza Shlesinger, the whole piece feels a lot like a comedy skit which also means that (in my limited understanding of comedy skits and stand-up comedy) that there’s bound to be bits that work and bits that don’t. Plus, its hard to not feel like there’s a little over the top element to the acting which definitely feels deliberate and also works for some parts and doesn’t really land for others. That being said, the overall feeling is a little average however, I do have to say that the approach and end-game is definitely different from the usual romantic comedy, which does make it refreshing to watch.

Being a film filled with some familiar faces, its hard to not look at the acting element. Iliza Shlesinger is a decent actress as she plays Andrea. A part of the execution is paralleled with a stand-up comedy performance that runs throughout the film which pretty much uses the situation on hand as her reflection of it and turning it into content for her show. The other part is the movie itself which still feels a lot like herself when she is in this role. Its very genuine and believable for her character itself even if some of the situations might not feel as believable but this is “mostly true love story” so I’m sure some bits are exaggerated to be the way that it is. Paired up with her is the male lead played by Ryan Hansen. A lot of the interaction is meant to be laid on really heavy so that its obvious that she’s falling into a trap (at least to me). I guess proving the point that when something is too good to be true, it most likely is. Perhaps even something of a cautionary tale about catfishes…maybe? That’s actually a tangent to talk about Ryan Hansen who was pretty convincing in this role since there were some pretty good shifts in the little details in his reactions and stuff that built his character up to be pretty sketchy.

Its hard to not talk about the female comedians and cast here that definitely steals the show and arguably, this film is its best when its their interaction. Iliza Shlesinger’s best friend is a bar owner called Margot played by Margaret Cho who is absolutely hilarious and absolutely is the highlight of this film. Plus, Margot and Andrea’s friendship is pretty fun especially when you add in the other ladies here whether its one of the guy’s roommates played by Beth Dover and the fake competition between a more successful actress Serrena played by Rebecca Rittenhouse. The three end up having a hilarious ride around town tracking down the lies of Andrea’s beau.

When its all said and done, Good on Paper is okay. It works much better as a comedy, if you like this sort of comedy style than as a romantic comedy. However, the fact that it is mostly based on a true story, it feels like a fun way to share a cautionary story and even with how they choose to end it is a lot different from how a normal romantic comedy would do it which makes this one that I can appreciate.

Tranquil Dreams Podcast #18: What’s Up 2021 Week 25

Welcome to the next episode of Tranquil Dreams Podcast where we dive into Week 25 of What’s Up 2021. Everything is completely back in action as I wrap up reading Lost Girls and Love Hotels and draw a quick comparison to its movie adaptation of the same name in the watching section. In the gaming section, its all about E3 during this week’s recap as I share a few recommendations. While wrapping up with a look at binging where a new series started for a fun and unique little Chinese series called The Day of Becoming You.

Thanks for listening and hope you enjoy!

Related Links

Lost Girls and Love Hotels – Book Review
E3 2021 Recap – Game Warp Podcast
Lost Girls and Love Hotels – Film Review
Skate Into Love – TV Binge

Music in the Episode:
There It Is by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4519-there-it-is
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Listen to the Show:
Anchor
Spotify
Google Podcasts
Breaker
RadioPublic

Double Feature: Teeth (2007) & The First Purge (2018)

Time for the next double feature! Horror seems to be my recent phase as I pair two horror films together although The First Purge isn’t really a horror and Teeth is a fairly mild horror so nothing too wild.

Teeth (2007)

Director (and writer): Mitchell Lichtenstein

Cast: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Hale Appleman, Lenny von Dohlen, Vivienne Benesch, Ashley Springer, Laila Liliana Garro

Still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a physical advantage when she becomes the object of male violence. – IMDB

When you think about a horror movie based around a girl with a vagina with teeth, it sounds like a ridiculous idea and probably a horror movie that isn’t meant to be taken seriously. I mean, the closest example is with Piranha 3DD where the girl had a baby piranha in her vagina that had the same concept..kind of. And that wasn’t exactly a good movie.

However, the premise here works and doesn’t in terms of a full-length movie. It works because what the girl has is a vagina with a defense mechanism which literally activates when boys or men are taking advantage of her or against her will. I would say its nifty to have although perhaps a tad extreme in terms of consequences for the boys/men in question. This film is classified as a horror comedy but the comedy at times is put in at some odd moments. Perhaps a little bit of sarcastic and dark humor. Some parts of it just felt like it was well-deserved or the reaction itself that was fairly entertaining.

The film doesn’t work so well because essentially the premise of this whole thing has one way to attack and its pretty much hidden so the mystery is the reveal of how and when it attacks where the events slowly reveal the whole concept. The attacks itself actually makes for some “funny” moments mostly because the reactions are rather over the top to say the least. However, there’s only so many bad guys she can meet in her life before she realizes the purpose of the whole thing. It doesn’t help that as viewers, its almost easy to spot the bad guys a mile away and those trying to use her and some of the plot points that feel a little far-fetched.

Teeth is a good premise. It works on my hand but doesn’t on some other ones. Its mostly that the way the danger happens in this one is wrapped up in a little bit of the unknown and partially our imagination of how it all looks however, the straight forward vagina with teeth does feel a little repetitive over the course of a full-length film although some of the kills did feel pretty entertaining to watch.

The First Purge (2018)

Director: Gerard McMurray

Cast: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez

America’s third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, comes to power and conducts an experiment: no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one has to stay on the island, but $5,000 is given to anyone who does. – IMDB

The First Purge is the fourth film in the franchise. Suffice to say, its fine time to bring back the origins of the The First Purge which highlights a lot of the reasoning behind this as well as the original concept and test run which actually turned out to be something a little more of a government scheme. The setting and the execution is pretty decent. The Purge series at this point has broken out of the horror genre for the most part and leans towards action as it has a lot of weapons and fighting and such.

The story revolves around not only the different groups of civilians and their reactions to the introduction of this Purge concept to Staten Island but also the incentives for participation and to even stay on the island but also the government’s stance from the differences between the public stance, the need for its success and the “secret” agenda. Because this is set back to the origins, there is no doubt about the end game that The Purge experiment will be a success at the end and how it goes about isn’t exactly unpredictable considering the future of The Purge in the previous films. Not to mention, these characters and their respective arcs aren’t exactly anything too exciting.

However, while I’m sounding rather negative about the whole thing, the story does move pretty fast thanks to the action. Its executed pretty smoothly and rather quick-paced. While the different elements aren’t explored very deep, its enough to get a grasp of what’s going on on all fronts and perspectives but still be able to put together an entertaining film. Its nothing exceptionally deep but still a decent addition to the whole franchise. The cinematography on how the action and the hunt for The First Purge actually looks pretty good whether its the technology or using the colorful neon lit eye contacts which appear and how the masks came to be: it not only builds on how things originated but also has a good setup for some of the hunt to have the creepy vibes, especially when it builds up on the danger element bit by bit as more people seem to be buying into the concept and the streets get crazier with the different groups.

While The First Purge isn’t anything too unique or different, the origin story angle is a good one at this point of the franchise. Its not too deep in most of its premise however, it still manages to be pretty fun and entertaining to watch thanks to the decent progression of events.

Tranquil Dreams Podcast #17: What’s Up 2021 Week 24

The next episode of Tranquil Dreams Podcast, I take a look at Week 24 of What’s Up 2021 and finally get reading back on as I start up a new novel inspired by one of this week’s watching selections while continuing my gaming obsession of Spiritfarer while talking about 2 great Chinese drama TV binges and sharing two new series that seem to have decent potential to be good.

Thanks for listening and hope you enjoy!

Related Links

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir – Film Review
Big Little Women – Film Review

Music in the Episode:
There It Is by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4519-there-it-is
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Listen to the Show:
Anchor
Spotify
Google Podcasts
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RadioPublic

Double Feature: The Eye (2002) & The Eye 2 (2004)

Next double feature is here as we revisit 2002’s The Eye and check out its sequel, The Eye 2.

The Eye (2002)

Director: Pang Brothers (Oxide Chun Pang & Danny Pang)

Cast: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Candy Lo, Edmund Chen, Pierre Png, Yut Lai So

A blind girl gets a cornea transplant so that she will be able to see again. She gets more than she bargained for upon realizing she can also see ghosts. – IMDB

I saw The Eye in the mid 2000s before I had any real knowledge or experience watching horror films. Being one of the first films, it was one that I remembered profoundly as it scared me a lot back then. Revisiting in 2012 for the first Halloween Marathon for the blog, still fairly inexperienced with horror, it still managed to scare me despite knowing the twist and the scares. Since 2012, I have never gone back to watch it and its been almost a decade and here we are, revisiting what in my mind was a tense horror film. Will the past few years of horror desensitize me to the film? Will it no longer be as impressive as I remember it? The answer is yes and no.

The Eye as a premise is a pretty good as it is both a horror and a thriller/mystery where the main character needs to adjust after getting her vision after a cornea transplant which shifts her life from being blind since she was 2 until the present where everything is unfamiliar in appearance to her. It leaves room for mystery and suspense and to play to whether what she’s seeing is real or supernatural. Using vision (or any sort of sense or lack of it) in a horror movie usually can create some interesting atmosphere (much like Hush did). The Eye uses this and manages to create some atmospheric tension playing with a unfamiliar setting like her grandmother’s home and creating some supernatural encounters. While the effects in general haven’t aged well considering it is a 2002 horror film, when I first saw it, it was fairly decent. There are of course some horror tropes since Chinese horror isn’t exactly their forte but thanks to The Pang Brothers’ storytelling they do manage to add in some unexpected twists which are rather well-executed.

Angelica Lee is pretty good in her role. Psychological or supernatural horror/thrillers tend to be her forte as she has been in other films of similar genre. There’s something rather good about her acting that is quite enjoyable and believable. Playing as the blind girl that finally sees and has to accept that abnormal things that she sees, the role itself is constructed well. However, the other characters sometimes feels a little less even if its the doctor who ends up helping her through track down what is going on. Most of the other characters are mostly done as supporting roles as a means to an end.

Overall, The Eye is a pretty straight-forward horror film. It moves between its horror elements and the psychological thriller elements pretty well. There are some really good visual elements specifically one where it plays with the visuals of shifting between the actual location and one the one from her vision which creates a cool effect. It also brings in some of the Chinese culture when it comes to death and unfulfilled wishes.

The Eye 2 (2004)

Director: Pang Brothers

Cast: Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan, Jesdaporn Pholdee, Yuan Yuan Ren

After a failed suicide attempt, a pregnant woman gains the ability to see ghosts. – IMDB

The Eye 2 is a completely story from the first one. Sequels are usually a little iffy overall however Shu Qi takes on a lead role as she moves through this film mostly on her own with the few other characters. This time, it takes on the supernatural belief that attempted suicide will bring on the ability to see ghosts which is what happens after she does that in a foreign country without success. When she comes back to Hong Kong, it essentially is for nothing as she tries to cope with her break-up and realizing that she can now see random abnormal people around her and experience other odd things that come up while eventually realizing that she is pregnant and must go through it alone. Taking this supernatural story of reincarnation as a foundation for the story as well as suicide being pretty much a “sin” but of course, in Chinese beliefs more as an opening for letting the supernatural in as a bad omen.

Shu Qi does a pretty decent role here. Her character Joey is faced with quite a lot of drama. The character shifts through a lot of different phases whether its from the dramatic attempted suicide (which almost feels like she doesn’t mean for it to succeed) to the obsessive stalking of her ex-boyfriend to the adaptation to the supernatural events she starts to face right down to the end when she decides to take some extreme actions in the final goal of protecting her baby. Its all a little crazy but she manages to capture that character fairly well even if it doesn’t feel completely logical sometimes, she still holds up the character in a believable enough way. Much like the first film, the supporting characters are all very much a means to an end and even less people involved. The final deduction of how they pull the reincarnation element to the story makes sense overall but her reaction to it seems a little intense.

As a sequel, The Eye 2 still carries a lot of the good elements. While the horror is a little more obvious this time, its not as atmospheric and actually leans more along the lines of cheap jumpscares. It even has a scene which is pretty disgusting to watch, maybe a little bit of a warning against committing suicide via overdosing. However, its a decent story overall using a mental instability and suicide and pregnancy to carry the supernatural elements. In reality, the end game is less scary when you realize what the twist of the story arrives. . Its not quite as shocking as the first film however, it still is a tad clever.