Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: Phobia 2 (Haa Phrang)

  • Directed by Paween Purijitpanya, Visute Poolvoralaks, Songyos Sugmakanan, Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun
  • Starring Jirayu La-ongmanee, Ray MacDonald, Dan Worrawech, Charlie Trairat, Nicole Theriault, Marsha Wattanapanich, Wiwat Kongrasri, Pongsatorn Jongwilas, Nattapong Chartpong, Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk
  • Released in Thai cinemas on September 9, 2009; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

With stories seemingly ripped from the headlines, GTH’s masters of slick, suspenseful horror are back with Phobia 2 -– five stories that range from the chillingly moralistic to downright hilarious.

With the Thai title Haa Phrang (5 แพร่ง), literally "five crossroads", the result is a more cohesive and even-toned effort than the first set of short thrillers, last year’s hit 4bia (See Phrang). All are tied together by the spinning wheels of a conveyance of one type or another.

First out of the gate is Novice by 4bia returnee director Paween Purijitpanya. It's his best work yet, with the cartoonish special effects favored by the young director of Body #19 dialled down. The result is an effective and pretty awesome start.

Jirayu La-ongmanee, the child star of Love of Siam and Naresuan I, stars as Pey, a fugitive motorbike-racing, rock-throwing windshield smasher sent into hiding in a creepy forest temple. Pey chafes at having his head shaved and taking vows, but even worse for this young grasshopper is the hunger he feels in the middle of the night.

An older monk (Ray MacDonald) tries to mentor the boy, but he’s too rebellious and his sin is too great. Karma and the howling, fearsome hungry ghosts of the forest have other ideas for Pey.

As a first-time director, veteran studio exec Visute Poolvoralaks applies a sure and steady hand to the next segment, Ward. Co-scripted by Sophon Sakdaphisit and Parkpoom Wongpoom (co-writers of the GTH horror hits Shutter and Alone), the story features another young biker (singer-actor Dan Worrawech), who has both legs in casts. Immobilised, he’s put into a hospital room with a comatose man. It's almost like a private room, a nurse helpfully tells him. The oldtimer is due to be unplugged soon, but that night Dan finds that grandpappy is actually pretty spry. Thus begins a struggle for his youthful soul.

Franchise newcomer Songyos Sugmakanan again teams up with his Fan Chan, Dorm and Hormones star Charlie Trairat in his darkest role yet in Backpackers. A pair of Japanese hitchhikers join Charlie and the burly driver of a 10-wheel truck for a ride down a remote highway. The truck’s contents soon reveal themselves by thumping around in back. The human cargo is showing ill effects of being bundled into an airless compartment. But each person is also carrying something secret inside them –- a substance that turns them into something fearsome. Oh heck, you've probably already seen the trailer haven't you? They're zombies!

Next stop is Parkpoom’s Salvage and a used-car lot run by Nuch (singer-actress Nicole Theriault), who assures a pair of customers that the Mercedes sedan they’re looking at was only used to run errands and is in perfect shape. The ruse is up when an angry customer arrives and yells at the businesswoman for selling a car that has been wrecked. At the close of the business day Nuch is alone at the carlot with just her young son. He's playing hide and seek among the rows of cars. What the young mother finds instead are the mutilated, gore-drenched spirits that are rising from all the wrecked cars, and they can’t be easily driven away.

Finally it’s In the End, Shutter and Alone co-director Banjong Pisanthanakun’s laugh-filled, self-deprecating parody of the notion that there are ghosts on horror-movie sets. Star Marsha Wattanapanich meets the challenge head on, portraying a two-faced diva-like caricature of herself on the set of Alone 2 -– never mind that everyone died in the first one.

But the real stars are those four guys again -- the happy campers from 4bia -- Wiwat Kongrasri, Pongsatorn Jongwilas, Nattapong Chartpong and Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk -- are back, playing clownish members of the film crew. An added element is a wheezing, coughing actress who is thought by everyone to actually be dead.

This leads to the typical running around and screaming of Thai comedy-horrors, but the gag is they are struggling to come up with a new way to end a horror movie. Do they succeed? Well, see for yourself and find out.

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(Cross-published in Daily Xpress)


  1. Thanks for the review. Though I stray away from horror flicks, but because of 4Bia, I'm really looking forward to see this sequel. Sadly, I just need to convince someone to accompany me first.

    Out of curiousity, which was the strongest/your favorite segment this time?

  2. In preference order, In the Middle, no contest. Then Novice, followed by Backpackers, Salvage and Ward.

  3. Really can't wait to watch this film. I know I will love it just like 4bia.

  4. i hope there will be sequal 4 phobia 2...
    this movie awesome!! espeacially 'the end'..

  5. It looks as though "Phobia 2" has been released on DVD in Thailand. The product description of YesAsia is a little dubious though.

    Normal Version

    Steelbook Version

    I doubt the product description is right though. No way it's Region Free. Especially with those...Subtitle Tech Specifications. Should probably be on the lookout for Hong Kong/Taiwan versions 3-6 months from now.

  6. Sorry, should've checked before I posted, but eThaiCD has a similar product description of Region Free with only Thai subtitles.

    It really feels like it defeats the purpose of having it Region Free.


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