Lionsgate // 2008 // 86 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 24th, 2008
When seeing is never believing.
A group of stupid friends invoke every urban legend they can find to try and see dead people. Predictably, it goes horribly wrong.
One night, five pals are gathered around for a sleepover, trying to scare the pants off each other. Not literally of course, because that would be a totally different and profoundly sexier movie. Leafing through a book about seeing ghosts, the friends decide to employ some of the techniques and see if they can get a glimpse of the spirit world.
And what do you know -- it works! Suddenly wherever they go, they're haunted by horrifying visions of the deceased, usually folks with sallow cheeks and bags under their eyes and varicose veins. Maybe they're having visions of my middle school music teacher.
Weird movie. What starts out as a series of ghostly vignettes turns into a plodding talk-fest that's regrettably thin on the shocks. At first I thought The Eye 3 was going to be an anthology, as the main characters begin the night by telling ghost stories, which are dramatized in the film, then move on to systematically running through each ghost-sighting method, all of which are told in stand-alone stories. Seriously, for the first thirty minutes I had no sense of a cohesive story, but I didn't mind because these stand-alones were actually kind of frightening in their own right.
Then the plot proper finally kicks in and it has something to do with one of the friends trapped in the spirit world and the other friends running around, menaced by a spectral basketball and bending over to look through their legs and looking at ghosts. I don't know either. Whatever is going on, though, it's not scary, and the jump scenes -- which this kind Asian horror is built upon -- take so long to unspool that when the payoffs hit they invariably disappoint. Take that ghost basketball, which is not scary but has a big enough role in the film that it will challenge Wilson the volleyball as the most-used sports apparatus in a feature film. There's a sequence on a bus, with a girl being followed by that basketball, and it rolls around and she stares and the music builds and the basketball rolls and more music and more rolling and more staring and then BAM! The ball turns into a head and that's it. It sounds like it could be scary, and on the script maybe it was, but in action it doesn't deliver. And that's only the first of many basketball scenes.
There were some effective scares, though, all of which transpired in the first third. While the main characters bang on bowls with chopsticks (apparently, if you go to an intersection at night and make noise with eating implements, hungry ghosts show up to look at you with their creepy eyes) the trademark Crazy-Ass Fast Walking Female Ghost makes an appearance, followed by the Floating Drooling Female Ghost and capped off with Maliciously Grinning Emaciated Elderly Ghost Couple.
So from a promising opening with a few decent shocks to a protracted, terror-free, bloated middle then to the trippy, bizarre final fifteen minutes, where the friends journey into the spirit world to rescue their friends and somehow gain the ability to breathe fire, The Eye 3 proves itself to be a disjointed missed opportunity.
It's a missed opportunity that looks (1.78:1 anamorphic) and sounds (5.1 Dolby Digital Chinese) good, though, and sports a pair of well-done making-of featurettes.
The terror is front-loaded and the remainder of the movie wanders aimlessly from scare-less scenes to scare-less scene. Pass on this one unless you need to see every horror morsel the Asian market spits out.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Chinese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Chinese)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13