Friday, October 8, 2010
10 Thai entries in 50 Best Asian Horror list
Ebossert at Cult Reviews recently compiled the 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millennium's First Decade, and among the expected entries from Japan and South Korea are eight from Thailand – 10 if you count the Pang Bros.' The Eye and Re-Cycle, which were both filmed in Thailand with Thai crew and are really Hong Kong-Thai co-productions.
At No. 43 is The Victim (ผีคนเป็น, Phii khon pen), a 2006 thriller by Monthon Arayongkoon and starring "May" Pitchanart Sakakon as an aspiring young actress hired by the cops to re-enact the deaths of murder victims. May's performance, her likable character, the pacing and memorable scenes all earn praise, "the most notable contribution[s] though, are the various acts of deception on the part of the scriptwriters that keep the viewer off balance."
At No 39. is another by Monthon, 2007's The House (บ้านผีสิง , Baan phii sing), which stars Inthira Charoenpura as a reporter looking into serial killings. "Both the synopsis and title are generic, but this is amongst the higher-quality ghost films," says Cult Reviews. "This movie makes no qualms about making a bee line towards an inevitable conclusion at 100 miles per hour while tossing in a boatload of horror elements along the way for maximum pacing."
The Pang Bros.' The Eye (คนเห็นผี, Khon hen phi) is at No. 36 and is listed under "China", but the story is set mostly in Thailand, where a blind woman played by Angelica Lee visits after she starts experiencing ghostly phenomena when she receives a transplanted retina from a Thai woman. "The final 10 minutes are the most interesting, but much of the film is driven by soft camerawork, effective scoring, and slow pacing that create a very dreamy mood."
The first GTH horror omnibus 4bia (4 แพร่ง, See Phrang) is at No. 35. "Overall, this is a very impressive, entertaining anthology."
A surprise entry – not because it's necessarily bad but because I'm shocked anyone else actually saw it – is 2008's Memory at No. 33. The psychological thriller that paired Ananda Everingham with Mai Charoenpura "is slow but steady, and the horror elements ... are restrained to fuel the conflicts."
The Pangs' Re-Cycle is at No. 27. "Yes, it’s essentially a thin CGI fest, but it’s hella entertaining."
GTH's Shutter (ชัตเตอร์ กดติดวิญญาณ, Shutter: Got Thit Winyarn) comes in at the halfway point, No. 25. Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, the thriller starring Ananda Everingham as a haunted photographer is "considered by many to be the greatest horror film from Thailand ... despite borrowing the Japanese-style onryo ghost ..."
Banjong and Parkpoom's 2007 follow-up Alone (แฝด, Faed), starring Marsha Wattanapanich as a woman haunted by the spirit of her former conjoined twin sister, comes in at No. 19.
Another surprise, just for its high placement in the list is No. 18, 2007's Sick Nurses (สวยลากไส้, Suay Laak Sai). Directed Piraphan Laoyont and Thodsapol Siriwiwat this story about scantily clad nurses engaged in an organ trafficking scheme, has become a worldwide cult hit thanks to a DVD releases in the U.S. and Hong Kong. I'd probably go along with the praise the movie has received if only the very year Sick Nurses was released, Thai censors hadn't wanted to cut much-less-shocking hospital scenes from Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century. Sex and murder in a hospital is okay with the censors, but doctors having a nip of whiskey or stealing a few kisses while off duty are big no-no's. Yeah, I know the censors' decision to cut Syndromes wasn't the fault of the makers of Sick Nurses, but I still can't rationally watch Sick Nurses without getting angry about it.
The highest-ranked Thai film on the list is at No. 17: Phobia 2 (5 แพร่ง , Haa Phrang), with the five short tales, Novice, Ward, Backpackers, Salvage and In the End all earning praise.
The list also includes two from Indonesia, Kuntilanak at No. 40 and The Forbidden Door in 10th and an honorable mention for the Mo Brothers' Macabre.
Noted omissions from the list are Five Star Productions' Art of the Devil movies as well as Wisit Sasanatieng's The Unseeable and Nonzee Nimibutr's classic ghost tale Nang Nak (penned by Wisit).