Monday, April 28, 2008

Reviews roundup: Sick Nurses, Body #19, 4bia

Thai horror films are scaring up reviews all over the globe, with a recent screening of three, count them, three Thai horror flicks on "Horror Day" at the recently wrapped-up Far East Film Festival in Udine Italy. There, Sick Nurses, The Screen and Kamchanond and Body #19 had the crowds screaming alongside such other films as Hideo Nakata's Kaidan and The Guard Post from Korea's Kong Su-chang.

Peter Nellhaus at Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee, has seen the new Sick Nurses DVD that's out in the U.S. Like me, he can't understand why this film was allowed to be made in Thailand, when it paints a far more brutal and corrupt picture of the proud Thai medical profession than did Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century, which offended cultural minders with scenes of doctors drinking whisky and a doc with a woody in his trousers. In Sick Nurses, a doctor and some nurses involved in some unspeakably corrupt practices, kill one of their own colleagues. Peter writes:

Sick Nurses is crap. Undeniably well made crap, but crap just the same. ... Adding to the absurdity that the cultural gatekeepers of Thailand felt the need to gang up on a gentle film by a filmmaker who other countries would cherish simply for bringing prestige to their country, is that none of these people seemed to regard it in any way as contradictory that Sick Nurses would be given a pass for a more questionable presentation of the medical profession ...

There are a couple of good points to Sick Nurses. The nurses are cute. And the film runs for less than 80 minutes.

Similar things could be written in criticising last year's Body #19 (alternatively Body Sop #19, just Body or The Body), which offered a bloody and violent look at some grisly murders surrounding a Thai teaching hospital. The basis of the film's story is in a true-crime case in which a Thai physician was convicted in the dismemberment death of his estranged wife, also a physician. Twitch's Todd Brown saw the film in Udine, and gave it a mixed review:

The Body is not a good film. It’s big and messy and hugely over reliant on CGI, showing all signs of a young director being a bad match to the script, director Paween Purijitpanya playing all the subtleties of a script by 13 Beloved director Chookiat Sakwirakul – one of Thailand’s brightest young talents – with the grace of a construction worker wielding a jackhammer. It’s big and noisy, saddled with mediocre performances and largely deficient when it comes to character work. That said, when it hits a sequence that works it REALLY works and there are more than enough of those moments to make the film a very compelling failure, a solidly entertaining ride that brings a little something new to the hair-ghost genre.

Meanwhile, See Phrang (or 4bia if you so choose), a new four-segment horror anthology featuring the work of Body's Paween, with Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom of Shutter and Alone and veteran director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, has been reviewed by the Bangkok Post's Kong Rithdee. I had not read Kong's review before I wrote my own, something I consciously have to make an effort to do, so I was surprised at the similar things we had to say about it, agreeing that, hey, See Phrang is good and you should go see it. Kong's review (cache):

The four shorts ... rely on a deft visual rhythm and a good sense of foreboding; in fact, the four filmmakers seem to have been in better form cooking up these bite-sized scares than when they have laboured to orchestrate their feature-length films.

The running theme is death; preferably grisly, photogenic death. Surprisingly, 4bia comes from studio GTH, which is known for its life-is-so-so-so-beautiful flicks that tend to shy away from the darker shades of humanity. But here, the four short movies revel in manufacturing a spree of inventive, bizarre doom and murders as the dead return to wreak havoc against the living.

(Photo from 4bia)

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