Monday, July 11, 2011

Four | หลุดสี่หลุด [ Movie Review ] ★★★★

Four innovative demented suspenseful comedic horror stories. This Tom Yum blend of Twilight Zone rocks.

In recent years, my personal favorite Thai horror movies have been the Phobia series (4bia and Phobia 2). It shows that good Thai horror might be in form of short stories and a collection of them brings in diversity and horror in the right dosage. When the trailer for Four appeared on my radar, it felt like a weak copycat aping the success of the previous two omnibus of Thai horror. But surprisingly, the only thing that was bad about this movie would be the trailer and Four was equally good as the Phobia series.

Think of it as a Thai Twilight Zone movie and you get the right level of scariness. It offers some intriguing concepts that probably would lose it's appeal if the each individual idea was to be expanded into a feature length movie.

Here's the lowdown on the plots of the four short stories and my thoughts on them.

The Noob's Human Holocaust | เกรียนหลุดโลก

Four kids hanging out at a mall, talking about Global Warming and how earth would benefit from some form of genocide. Their choice of mass massacre? It would be a virus without a vaccine. They started to diverge to how the virus could be spread through computers and other form of electronic devices. 

As their conversation gets weirder, one of the group member started to ask the most important question. Who organized this gathering?

On first impression, The Noob's Human Holocaust looked like a film school project with cinematography that felt amateurish. But for folks who are into films and film making, it won't be hard to spot that the entire segment was done in one take. That means one continuous shot of this segment with no NGs and no cuts. There was a moment whereby the camera floated away from the conversation and pans to the second level of the mall before making it's way back to the boys' table. The unsteady camerawork gave the used of handheld Steadicam away but extra points should be given to the filmmakers and cast for their various background works and coordination to make it possible to capture the whole story in one shot.

Technical details aside, the whole global cleansing conversation between this four kids was rather interesting (depending on your personal views). It felt rather nihilist and bleak but there's some truth in the overpopulation issue that these teenagers touched on. Their choice of virus seemed far fetched but innovative in it's own ways. The execution of this grand plan was both comical and horrifying. Needless to say, capturing this story in one shot just helped make it even more spooky. Eakasit Thairaat, the scriptwriter for all the four stories in Four and Paween Purijitpanya's "4Bia: The Deadly Talisman" directed this piece and personally, I will be keeping an eye on him, looking out for what is he doing to do next.

Last but not least, I personally digs how they used the virus as a form of subtle PSA (Public Service Announcement) to turn their handphones off during movies. Pretty niffy way to start a movie. this review belongs to filmsblitz at blogspot. please do not shamelessly copy it and use it as your own

The Gift Shop for the People You Hate | ร้านของขวัญเพื่อคนที่คุณเกลียด

Thada (Pakkorn Chartburrirak) had just been promoted to manager in his company. While everyone is celebrating for him, there's a disgruntled colleague that had some nasty stuff to say to him. After the incident blew over, Thada decided to go for a walk and look for gifts to give his colleagues as part of his promotion celebration. He came across a shop with the name "The Gift Shop for the People You Hate". Puzzled by the shop name, he went into the shop and was told by the salesperson that this is the place to get back at rivals or enemies. They carry umbrella that comes with a lightning rod and perfume laced with the deadly tiger wasp stingers. They even provide services to sabotage individuals up to the degree that the customers wished. 

Thada dismissed the salesperson's pitch and wanted to leave. The salesperson then mention that someone already bought six gifts for him and warned him to watch out for products with their company logo. Thada naturally didn't believe that and went on to enjoy his promotion. The fun starts when he starts to unwrap and uses his promotion gifts. 

Think of it as Stephen Chow's Tricky Brains that's less playful and more mean spirited. It's innovative in the ways that they came up with those whacky gifts. The suspense here would be to see how Thada could figure out which gifts are life threatening. The beautiful of going to the movies is so that we could live vicariously through these unfortunate protagonist.  The characterization for Thada felt uneven at times but that was easily forgotten with the delivery of one heck of a comeuppance twisty ending. This piece directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri (Muay Thai Chaiya  and Art of the Devil 2 & 3) is bizarrely entertaining.

The Night to Lose Your Mind | คืนจิตหลุด

After unwittingly shooting a pregnant lady during a robbery, Neung (Ananda Everingham) became a changed. He became a reckless trigger happy manic who is causing destress to his partner Joe (Thitti Vejchaboon. Even though they were wanted by the police, Neung insisted on carrying out another robbery and bringing his brother Song (Peerapol Sehnakol) along. Joe was reluctant but was forced at gunpoint to carry out their final robbery together. 

After their robbery, they encountered a police roadblock and decided to hide in a old abandon hospital. They were about to split their booty when they encountered someone or something that lurking around. Neung in his maniac mood swing felt that his authority had been challenged and decided to chased after the shadowy individual.  Resulting in a night that ripe to lose one's mind.

Arguably the weakest installment of the whole lot. This segment relied heavily on Ananda Everingham's performance to keep this segment going. While he did a decent job, it's hard not to feel that it dragged the story out a bit too long for it's own good.  It felt like an rendition of the Saw franchise which was enjoyable and decently filmed to get the type of reaction to torture porn.  The twist at the end was somewhat predictable but still satisfying even after the long wait. 

Who R Kong? | ฮูอากง

The grandfather of a Thai Chinese family had passed on but before he died, his last words were "Don't burry me or cremate me until...". His children obeyed his last wishes and left his corpse in his ancestral home. Years later, the family had problem hiring maids to watch over the body as it tends to walk around, scaring the hell out of the maids. 

They hired a fortune teller / exorcist to solve the problem and the family was told that the grandpa wanted to pass a message to his favorite grandchild. The message was said to contain hidden treasures in the ancestral home. The head of the household then decided that all the grandchildren would stay over to look after the grandfather's body.

The grandchildren were made up of an effeminate guy who refuse to admit that he is a homosexual, a brainy doctor who is quite an asshole, a internet porn addict teenager and a little girl who is constantly texting with her blackberry. Lastly, there's Song (Alice Tsoi), the granddaughter who seemed to be the most decent and sensible among the bunch.

This segment got the whole cinema laughing out loud and stomping their feet. The over the top comedic performance and situations made it hard to sit through without laughing. The effeminate grandson will bring the house down with his dance moves and his strenuous denial of his homosexuality. In between moments of laugh out loud comedic situations, there's the suspenseful ones involving one grandpa who can't keep still even after he is dead.

This "homedy" segment is wonderfully directed by Chukiat Sakveeraku (who also directed Love of Siam, one of my fave movies of 2009).  It's impressive that he was able to deliver a well blend of scary horror and riotous comedy. In an unexpected way, he was able to close this whole segment with a sweet ending. Personally it was a terrific way of ending a fun rollar coaster ride.

Beyond the Movie

I came across a set of four individual Thai posters for the respective segments here.

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