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The Child's Eye
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The Child's Eye

Rainie Yang and Shawn Yue in The Child's Eye.

Chinese: 童眼  
Year: 2010  
Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang Fat
Writer: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang Fat, Pang Pak-Sing
Cast: Rainie Yang, Elanne Kong Yeuk-Lam, Shawn Yue, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Jo Koo, Ciwi Lam Sze-Man, Jones Xu, Rex Ho Chun-Wai
The Skinny: The 3D is pretty kewl, but the movie itself is not. Child's Eye needs more than spiffy technology, interesting cultural detail and Rainie Yang to prevent itself from becoming yet another underwhelming Pang Brothers effort. We suggest a good story.
by Kozo:
The Child’s Eye is the latest from the Pang Brothers, and also their most recent film to push the envelope - technologically, that is. This is Hong Kong’s first film to be shot entirely in High Definition 3-D and bankroller Universe Entertainment has been quick to point that out. However, as an actual narrative work, The Child’s Eye is merely a ho-hum effort that’ll kill time if not brain cells. Super-cute Taiwan idol Rainie Yang stars as Rainie, a self-absorbed girl vacationing in Thailand with boyfriend Lok (Shawn Yue), plus pals Ling (Elanne Kong), Hei (Izz Tsui a.k.a. Jones Xu), Ciwi (Ciwi Lam of Trick or Cheat) and Rex (Rex Ho of Basic Love). The six are due to leave Bangkok but political unrest and rioting shuts down the airport, and after a few plausible detours the group ends up at a rundown hotel with a bad history. Cue freaky happenings and chances for spoilers.

If only the spoilers were really that interesting. Child’s Eye is loaded with backstory that’s meant to be scary or disturbing, but given the overload this genre has seen in the last decade, the revelations only feel routine. The Pangs’ handling is serviceable; they bleed tense moments well, plus deliver one grisly moment right when the film needs it. However, they also pull a particularly lousy narrative trick that’s tantamount to cheating. They use flashbacks to provide key details, only to modify those flashbacks later – all because they want to throw yet another needless twist on the audience. Then they compound their lousy storytelling with yet another twist at the end that’s so unnecessary that one may simply ask, “Huh?” Ever since The Sixth Sense, twist endings have been practically required for any moody horror thriller, but that was eleven years ago. In dog years, that’s seventy-seven.

But I digress. Well, only a little, because Child’s Eye does have something to do with dogs. They’re integral to the plot in multiple ways, with one detail involving Little Huang, a loyal canine who leads Rainie around the creepy hotel in search of her friends. There’s a green-skinned ghost (Jo Koo under makeup – we hope) kidnapping hotel guests, including all the guys in Rainie’s party. However, awesome Little Huang can see ghosts so he helps Rainie, Lam and Ciwi to search for their green-skinned quarry. The grouchy and gimpy hotel owner (Gordon Lam) is leery of their antics, though, plus there’s a mysterious half-human creature lurking in the murky recesses of the hotel. But that won’t stop Little Huang, who manages to act rings around many of the human actors. Who knew that the Pangs could direct animals? Perhaps their next project should be the HK remake of Marmaduke.

Unfortunately, Little Huang does not save Child’s Eye from becoming nearly pointless and interminable. There are mild shocks and frights, but nothing about the film sticks to your gut like a good horror film should. The mysteries are solved in perfunctory fashion, and the big character reveals – involving Rainie and her relationship with Lok – could induce snores. On the plus side is the film’s 3-D, which proves effective and even immersive. The sharp, distinct depth of field gives audiences plenty more to look at besides just the actors; the viewer’s eye can roam the frame, finding dark corners and spooky shadows with which to imagine their own nightmares. As a demonstration of 3-D’s potential applications, Child’s Eye performs admirably. However, last I checked, audiences pay money to get a complete experience and not a bench test of an emerging technology. That’s what trade shows are for.

Child’s Eye also disappoints in its wasted potential. The actors aren’t given much to do; Rainie Yang performs decently in horror heroine mode, but when she has to get emotional or meaningful, the script and story undermine her. Shawn Yue makes a “guest appearance” to brood and then disappear for scads of screentime. Worst of all, the film wastes ideas. One idea, a visualization of Chinese “paper burning” funerals, is particularly stunning, recalling the Pangs’ Re-cycle but with a not-before-seen cultural edge. However, the scene only lasts a few moments before it's shoved aside – and anyway, it’s not foreshadowed or introduced properly, preventing it from becoming the payoff that it should have been. Sadly, the Pangs won’t be able to use this idea for another film because they just blew their wad on Child’s Eye. But that’s really their career at this point, isn’t it? Occasional, stirring creativity undermined by a disappointing result. Hopefully they’ll hire a screenwriter next time, instead of writing their own films. (Kozo 2010)

Notes: • The Universe Blu-ray release of The Child's Eye features both a 2D version of the film and a stereoscopic 3D version for people who own those fancy 3D hi-definition televisions.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital EX 6.1 / DTS ES
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image credit: Universe Entertainment Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen