In most horror films about ghosts, a happy ending suggests that the protagonist is not murdered or possessed by antagonistic spirits. An unhappy or voyeuristically unsatisfying ending is the opposite of a happy one. A good ending is well planned and executed; a bad one is not. The conclusion of “The Eye 2” (Pang Brothers, 2004) is certainly a good and technically happy one. A thematic sequel to the Pang Brothers’ 2002 film The Eye, which had Angelica Lee undergoing a cornea transplant and then having ghostly visions, “The Eye 2” is about a young woman named Joey (Shu Qi) whose relationship woes drives her to a suicide attempt that results in the ability to see ghosts.
Enriching the story and complicating the question of whether or not the ghosts are friendly, Joey finds out she is pregnant. She doesn’t know if she shouldn’t be afraid of what she sees and we can only assume that she ought to be scared. After all, benevolent spirits don’t frighten and don’t look like something out of a nightmare. As the months pass and the frequency of spirit sightings increase, Joey’s mental state is strained. She must seek help to make sense of her brush with the paranormal and possibly to get rid of it. Who she turns to and what he tells her places the film in a spiritual and philosophical dimension that will cause you to re-evalute your thoughts on life, death, and existence in ways that you likely haven’t before.
Although “The Eye 2” isn’t scarier than conventional Japanese horror films, the instances and images of terror have a deeper impact on you because there is a clearer contrast between “normal” scenes and “horror” scenes. There are a handful of surprise!-a-creepy-visual moments (accompanied by relevant sound effects and sudden cuts), but there are slowly frightening developments (reflected faces, lingering presences) that magnify and prolong the helplessness she feels in knowing that nobody else can see what she does. If you find yourself chuckling at these deadly manifestations, it’ll be because there’s an absurdity to how they are presented.
Distributed by Lions Gate Films in the US, the DVD of “The Eye 2” includes an insightful making-of featurette where the Pang Brothers discuss their narrative inspiration and share a couple of ghost stories that will almost make it seem unfair that Asia has all the “cool” ghosts—the ones that do more than flutter down a flight of stairs or appear at the foot of the bed.