Feng Shui 2 is the very belated sequel to 2004's Feng Shui. It concerns the same antique bagua that terrorized a family ten years ago. Lester (Coco Martin) is a small time hustler struggling to make ends meet. He is tasked with retrieving an antique bagua mirror from the scene of an apparent suicide. He manages to complete the job, but the bagua somehow returns to his possession. At first, it seems to bring Lester and his family good fortune, but it doesn't take very long for it to reveal its sinister intentions. The people around him are dying, falling prey to the spirits inside the antique. The former owners of the bagua show up at his doorstep, hoping to put the curse to rest once and for all.
The movie is at its most effective in its first hour, where it mainly focuses on the grand reversal of fortune that Lester encounters. The film quickly establishes his situation, exploring the world of characters that exists around him. And then it introduces the threat and smartly tears that world apart. What makes these segments so powerful is that they adhere to a strong sense of logic, a set of rules that loosely define how these hapless people meet their end. The ghosts rarely take direct action. Their power lies in tricking people into harming themselves.
Things get a little silly in the last third of the film, as the characters get caught in somewhat of a wild goose chase. The focus shifts from Lester to a couple of the other characters, and the narrative goes off into different directions. It just stops being scary, the movie piling on the complications and losing the stakes in the process. The characters are told over and over what they must do, and it feels as if the movie is just stalling for time, introducing a whole new set of rules to justify the changes.
To the film's credit, it lays down the groundwork for some of these developments, but the core idea that runs the back end just doesn't really hold up. The film throws in a whole lot of mumbo jumbo about how the bagua is more dangerous now, and how it ties to the zodiac cycle. And it never really feels organic to the story. It feels as though the film is just trying to cover its tracks with a surplus of information. Meanwhile, the characters aren't really given a chance to properly deal with the drama of their situation.
But all in all, the movie is solid enough. Some of the darker scenes end up looking a tad grainy, but for the most part, the movie gets a lot out of its shots. There's a lot of cleverness in this movie, and though some of it feels extraneous (the shots of zodiac animals marking deaths don't really land), the thinking behind many of these decisions is greatly appreciated. The acting is solid enough, though it all gets a little shrill by the end. Coco Martin is really good when he's out of his depth, the growing desperation visible in his every gesture.
Feng Shui 2 doesn't really offer a satisfying conclusion. The climax entails a solution to the problem that doesn't feel like a solution at all, and as is standard for local horror movies, it leaves enough open for future installments of the series. The movie introduces so many new elements to the myth in its back end that it all feels really arbitrary. The movie is best when it plays by its own rules, building the horror from a logical set of circumstances. Thankfully, the movie does that for a good long time, which is more than one can say for most local examples of the genre.