Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: 3 A.M. (Tee Sam 3D)

  • Directed by Patchanon Thammajira, Kirati Nakintanon, Isara Nadee
  • Starring Focus Jirakul, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Toni Rakkaen, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Ray MacDonald
  • Released in Thai cinemas on November 22, 2012; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

Following the ghosts-on-an-airplane drama Dark Flight 407 earlier this year, Five Star Production continues its trip into the third dimension of horror with 3 A.M. (ตีสาม 3D, Tee Sam 3D), which offers three short scary stories, all taking place during the wee hours when ghost powers are said to be the strongest.

While Dark Flight was a meandering, overlong journey, 3 A.M. is tighter, thanks to the short-film omnibus format. The strong performances by the cast, including many well-known stars, is another mark in the plus column for 3 A.M. The 3D effects are mostly gimmicky though, with shards of broken glass flying out of the screen, a string used to stitch up a corpse inviting you to grab hold or a bill spike from an office desk piercing through your forehead. When there weren't any gimmicks happening, I took my 3D glasses off, and didn't see much need for them.

Patchanon Thammajira, who previously did the baby-in-a-blender thriller Colic, directs the first segment, The Wig, which follows two sisters (Focus Jirakul and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) in a haunted wig shop. Kirati Nakintanon, who earlier this year directed the romantic comedy First Kiss, switches to horror for The Corpse Bride, about a young medical student (Toni Rakkaen) who develops a creepy attachment to the corpses of a bride and groom. And former Ronin Team member Isara Nadee (Dark Flight) directs O.T., a workplace horror-comedy about a couple of bosses (Shahkrit Yamnarm and Ray MacDonald) who play elaborate pranks on their office workers.

Focus, who made her debut as a child actress in 2003's Fan Chan, leads The Wig. She's a kind soul who runs a shop where she specializes in making wigs for cancer patients. She lives in the shophouse with her bitchy older sister (Saipan Apinya). Things get creepy when a bundle of long hair that's been unceremoniously hacked off a vengeful corpse is delivered to the shop. Shelves full of dummy wig heads have an unsettling effect late in the evening when the older sister has brought back a couple friends from a night of drinking.

The scares turn kinky in The Corpse Bride, in which singer Toni Rakkaen is a medical student charged with looking after the corpses of a bride and groom who died under mysterious circumstances in their creaky old teakwood mansion. The bodies are dressed in their wedding outfits and laid out in coffins. The student is shown around the sprawling place by a stern nurse (go-to horror gal Watsana Chalakorn from The 8th Day), who warns the whippersnapper to not go into the couple's bedroom. But of course the kid scoffs at the warning, and barges right in to the bridal suite and makes himself at home on the bed. He then finds himself strangely attracted to the lovely bride, and removes her from the coffin for his own personal playtime. He then starts to have visions of what he thinks might have happened to the young woman. Meanwhile, the groom's coffin starts to shake and rattle. A tookay lizard crawling up the bride's dress also gets the audience squealing.

The proceedings turn comic in O.T., about office workers earning overtime by working after hours. They are scared out of their wits when chairs start moving around and computers turn on and off by themselves. It's only their bosses, Shahkrit Yamnarm and Ray MacDonald (almost unrecognizable in his off-kilter haircut), playing pranks on them. As the hour grows later, the office drones try to top their bosses with ever-more-elaborate hoaxes and scares. But soon, the horror turns very real. And the final look on Shahkrit's face is priceless.

Lensman Teerawat Rujintham, who's also been shooting rival studio Sahamongkol's first 3D production, Tom-Yum-Goong 2, has been brought aboard for some segments in 3 A.M.

Like Dark Flight, Five Star pre-sold distribution rights to 3 A.M. to many overseas territories, including Hong Kong, so you can likely expect to see the movie turn up on English-friendly DVD and Blu-ray at some point in the future.

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