Forest of Death 森冤 (2007) – Hong Kong
Is The Eye an act of fluke… probably…
Sometimes it really makes you wonder whether or not The Eye is really directed by the Pang brothers. After the mentioned award wining and international success, the Pang brothers are plainly just slightly average and at times seemingly average. As someone used to claim, the Pang brothers have a great eye and most certainly they do. Their style is always over substance, but lately they have been too concerned with style and almost forgetting the importance of having substance as well. With Forest of Death, there are moments and times that remind us what the hell the Pang brothers are capable of and namely almost all the scenes within the forest. The forest is a frightening premise and its mysterious backdrop certainly help the cause, but this is still no The Eye and the result is an adequate film that is above average.
All of the sudden, Neo remembered someone asking him ages ago, what are you scared of. At that moment, I could not think of an answer, but it is certainly the forest. There is something scary and mysterious about being struck in the forest at night. The trees and eerie moments of segmented silent create an outstanding backdrop for a horror thriller. Pang smartly exploited this mysterious environment and combining with their great eye, has certainly created something watch-able and even thrilling at times.
Shu Qi is certainly a capable actress, but it seems that she have forgotten about her potential to become even better and in the process her acting range seemed to have been stalled. It is disappointing to see Shu Qi taking the same role and approaching it in the same manner over and over again. It is an okay performance, but it is no where near her previous outing with the Pang brothers in The Eye 2. Another person that should be up for similar criticism is Ekin Cheng. Cheng have never been much of a talent when it comes to acting, and apart from maturing from his Young and Dangerous days, he have been appearing in more and more stoic roles after roles. He does not show any sort of range and in turn lamenting out an unsympathetic performance that hardly ever relate to the audience. On the other hand, Rain Li continues to impress Neo with both her beauty and potential she is showing. She seemed to be the only character that is somewhat human and she handles the rain dreaded scenes within the forest alone with some degree of distinction. However, the scene stealer must be veteran Lau Siu Ming whose mysteriousness makes the film better than it should be.
All in all, Forest of Death is an interesting premise and the backdrop of the forest certainly plays a role in the overall mysteriousness within the flick. However, it is once again the flaw in Pang brothers filmmaking in the over emphasis in terms of style over substance. In fact it is okay to have style over substance, but it is not adequate when you have 90% on style and 10% on substance, as the result is the audience feeling pretty much empty. It is an adequate enough effort to justify a viewing, but with the Pang brothers, you really expect more than that. Perhaps it is now safe to say that The Eye was a one off fluke, but lets not give up just yet and hopefully the Pang brothers can once again prove me wrong…
I rate it 7/10.