Director Pornchai Hongrattaporn, who helms The Second Sight, built his career on comedy movies. Asian horror can feel overly serious at times, and in theory, the director was in a position to bring some new lively energy to the genre. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happened. The director seems to struggle to decide on a tone for the film, matching awkward attempts at pathos with a generally goofier vibe. The Second Sight does feel a bit wackier than your average Asian horror film, but that doesn’t turn out to be a good thing in this case.
Attorney Jate (Nawat Kulrattanarak) has the ability to see people’s karma. Bad karma will manifest around a person, giving Jate insight into how that he or she might die. One night, his ability keeps him from dying in a car crash. The next day, he’s tasked with defending Kaew (Virapond Jirawetsuntorakul), the young girl accused of causing the accident. Jate notices malevolent looking spirits hanging around his client, and tries to protect her from the various threats to her life. Meanwhile, Jate’s girlfriend Joom (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) grows jealous of the time he’s spending with his client, and begins experiencing strange things as well.
The film features two big twists that arrive late in the narrative. As with many twist-dependent films, the story largely becomes about stalling for time, keeping the characters in stasis until all the relevant information can actually be revealed. And so the characters end up doing very little. They mostly sit around in dimly lit rooms, waiting for spirits to show up and do something vaguely scary. It becomes tedious pretty quickly. The characters just don’t know enough to do anything about their predicament. And so the plot just doesn’t move. It instead concerns itself with lesser issues, like an eye roll-inducing love triangle subplot.
When the twist is finally deployed, things don’t get much better. The film ends up having to explain a lot pretty quickly, and thus fails to build any drama around the information revealed. It all feels very silly, and not in a good way. The film really seems to be trying to get some gravity out of its story, but there isn’t a whole lot to hold on to. The film is just too goofy. It attempts at drama come off as shrill and cartoonish. And its horror elements are much too reliant on bad CGI effects.
The film was originally conceived to be in 3D, and a lot of the effects were designed to take advantage of that fact. Whatever little pathos the film might have gained from its dramatic revelations is undermined by all the junk flying at the camera. This probably wouldn’t have been great in 3D either, but in 2D it just looks like garbage. The acting doesn’t do the movie any favors, either. Nawat Kulrattanarak can’t quite sell his character’s emotional journey. The female cast members, on the other hand, are poorly served by the writing.
Granted, The Second Sight has a bit more personality than a lot of the humdrum, generic horror that fills our cinemas these days. The problem is it doesn’t go far enough. There’s certainly a hint of the director’s sensibilities in here, but only enough to undermine the overall serious tone of the story. Had this been more of an outright comedy, it could have been easier to swallow. But instead, it is stuck in a sort of limbo between its two impulses. The film crumbles under all that pressures, unable to sustain its conflicting tones.