DVD: The Child’s Eye
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Director: The Pang Bros.
Written By: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang, Thomas Pang
Cast: Rainie Yang, Elanne Kwong, Shawn Yue, Ka Tung Lam, Jo Kuk
If you had a choice between staying at a haunted hotel in Thailand or braving the night outside with protestors and police shooting tear gas at you, what would you choose? Personally, I’d take my chances in the haunted hotel — angry mobs and armed police frighten me just a little bit more. That’s exactly what Rainie (Rainie Yang) and her friends do in The Child’s Eye when their trip to Thailand is cut short due to civil unrest in the country. So is it the right choice?
The Pang Brothers, the writers and directors of The Child’s Eye, certainly know their way around a horror flick, considering they’ve done several already. A foreign country, a dilapidated hotel, spooky kids, and poltergeist activity are great ingredients to any tale of the supernatural. Unfortunately, they don’t all meld together very well. Events seem to happen too fast, and while there are some really creepy moments, they feel disjointed as if they were part of a different movie altogether.
The group’s hotel is apparently haunted by a woman who lives in the upper part of the building, an area locked off by the hotel’s owner, Quan. There’s also some kind of monster running loose, which is somehow connected to the ghost. On top of that, Quan may or may not be a murderer. They all do tie together in the end, but really, it’s the ghost that gets most of the screen time here. The scenes where chairs move around by themselves or when we catch glimpses of the dead woman are surprisingly effective. The Pang Bros. know when the let the camera settle and allow the tension to build. Waiting for something to happen can be just as terrifying as something actually happening.
When the monster finally shows up, it’s actually when the characters get caught in some weird alternate dimension and Rainie gets attacked by what looks like a half-child, half-dog. This is where the movie really begins to fall apart. The explanations as to who the woman is, what that dog-person thing is, and why they’re all haunting that hotel are thrown at the viewer really fast. There’s no real time to allow the story to settle in, but by this point in the movie, most of the logic I was trying to follow was thrown out the window and I assumed I was just supposed to enjoy the rest of the ride. The story wraps up with a final scene that I guess is a “twist” ending, but it makes absolutely no damn sense whatsoever.
And the logic holes in the story aren’t the only things that hurt this movie. The English subtitles are serviceable, but I assume they’re written based off of a literal translation of the Cantonese dialogue. This makes the dialogue sound stilted and unnatural. The English dub suffers, not just because of poor voice acting (it’s average, at best), but because the dubbed track’s dialogue is exactly the same as the subtitles. Hearing poorly-written dialogue is just as bad, if not worse, than reading it. But the biggest distraction? Poor CG effects.
The movie was apparently shot with 3D in mind, and there are a few moments where things are supposed to “pop out” at you, like ghostly hands, insects, a chair, etc. This DVD is not presented in any type of 3D, so the the CG loses pretty much all of its desired effect. Even if I did see this in 3D, I doubt it could make up for just how bland and completely unrealistic the computer-generated effects look like.
On the technical side, the DVD doesn’t disappoint, but it doesn’t exactly shine, either. The video plays at around 4 MB/s, which is standard for most DVDs, but the quality of the picture still looks flat and the colors a bit muted. The 5.1 Cantonese and English tracks both sound pretty good, however. There’s enough going on to fill each of the five satellite channels and the dialogue and music mix well together. Aside from some trailers, there’s also a behind-the-scenes featurette that has interviews with the cast and crew. Running at about twenty-five minutes, the interviews are interesting enough. The Pang Bros. discuss their decision to make a 3D movie and how the story developed, and some of the cast discuss their characters and share some anecdotes of the production.
The Child’s Eye will most certainly get lost in the myriad of Asian horror films that have been released over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean fans of the genre should dismiss it. The first two acts of the movie have some tense, nerve-wracking scenes that are hurt the most by a rushed story. Enjoy the movie for what it is, just don’t think too hard when you’re watching it.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars