Body is a wonderful piece of horror cinema. It is also going to be a real bitch of a movie to review as the movie hinges on a brilliant plot twist near the end which I want to avoid giving even the slightest hint to. So with that in mind I will attempt some sort of review. Please accept my comments may be even more vague than normal, but this film should be seen without any spoilers.
Chon is a student living with his sister, he is constantly plagued by bad dreams. These dreams involve a woman being dismembered, a strange cat & a fetus. He also suffers from daytime hallucinations & occasional memory loss. While Chon is preparing some prawns for dinner he suffers a hallucination as the prawns start to move & bleed heavily. Chon badly slices the tip of his finger & his sister takes him to hospital. The doctor treating Chon’s wound refers him, to Chon’s surprise to a psychiatrist Dr Usa, who herself is under increasing strain at home with her distant husband Dr Sethee. When Chon goes to see Dr Usa she acts very uncomfortably around him. Chon’s nightmares & hallucinations start to increase in intensity & he is drawn to a door in his house covered by a large piece of furniture. When Chon opens it he sees a vision of a woman being dismembered on the floor. Chon also sees visions of a ghostly woman who he eventually identifies a Dr Dararai. Dr Usa also starts to investigate Dr Dararai as there seems to be a connection between her & Dr Sethee. Dr Usa discovers Dr Dararai is an expert in hypnosis & has recently gone missing. The assistant who gives Dr Usa this information dies that evening in an accident with barbed wire. The Dr who refered Chon to Dr Usa also dies in an accident with acid. Chon rushes to see Dr Usa, convinced anyone he tells about Dr Dararai dies. But the real truth is much more horrifying.
Body is a stunning movie, one that really grips you from beginning to end. The first two-thirds of the movie play out like a typical (albeit well made) Asian ghost movie. It is as the film reaches its conclusion that the movie shifts dramatically with a plot twist that makes you completely re-evaluate what you have just seen. The twist itself is very reminiscent of two classic yet completely different movies that I obviously will not name here. Once you have seen Body you will know exactly which two movies I’m referring to. Again I will apologise for my hesitancy to give any details but I went into this movie knowing next to nothing about it & that is the way I believe it should be seen. The acting by the entire cast is first-rate & the film itself looks wonderful. Director Paween Purijitpanya was obviously given a decent budget & has taken great care in making a beautiful looking movie. Purijitpanya allows the plot to develop, slowly unravelling the mystery & keeping you (the audience) hooked. The ghost apparition of Dr Dararai is a wonderful creation, while sticking to the Yurei (thanks Andrew, anyone wishing to know more about the Yurei should check out Andrew’s blog Lucid Dreams. It can be found on my links) imagery, the ghost is more than just your usual long-haired spirit. the effects for Dr Dararai are excellent. Sadly the same cannot be said for the cat or fetus, which both stand out as poorly done CGI. These are pretty much the only downside to this movie. There are a few loose ends that don’t quite add up at the movies conclusion. There are things to do with Chon’s sister & don’t quite make sense but these are minor quibbles & don’t detract from the movies impact. The film I can safely liken this to without spoilers would be The Forbidden Door. Like that movie Body changes completely near the end & becomes something completely different. I really don’t want to say anymore for the reasons I have already stated.
Body is a wonderful film you simply must see. Intelligent, gripping & jaw dropping. It’s a real shame this movie isn’t well-known. Like Noroi it seems to have slipped under most people’s radar. Please take my word for it & see this movie. A Thai classic that can stand side by side with Shutter & from me that is high praise indeed.
“You’ve already become the hero of our story”
Every now & then a movie comes along which simply blows me away & restores my faith in genre movies. As every genre buff will know too well, for every great movie there are 20 utter stinkers. Hansel & Gretel is one of those movies that demonstrates just how good a movie can be. It is nothing short of genius & could sit proudly & justifiably in my Hall Of Fame.
Eun-su is a salesman & travelling by car to see his mother who is ill. Along the way Eun-su calls his pregnant girlfriend & they get into an argument. As they argue Eun-su’s car hits a rock & he loses control, flipping the car in the crash. Eun-su wakes a few hours later, dazed, in a dark forest. He wanders off to find help but soon collapses again. When he wakes, he sees a girl with a lantern. She tells him her name is Young-hee & guides him to her house in the middle of the wood. There is a sign by the fence which says “the home of happy children” They are met at the door by Young-hee’s parents & her two siblings Man-bok her older brother & Jeong-sun her little sister. Once inside Eun-su begins to notice the parents acting nervously & strangely. He is told he can rest at the house overnight & leave in the morning. Eun-su tries to leave the next day but he gets lost in the forest & as it gets dark is forced to return to the house. As he arrives back Eun-su passes the parents, who inform him they are leaving & ask if he can look after the kids for a short while. The longer he stays in the house the more disturbed Eun-su becomes. The TV plays the same violent cartoon endlessly, even though it isn’t plugged in & he hears noises in the attic. When Eun-su investigates the attic he finds the children’s mother. She tells him that she is not the children’s parent but like Eun-su was brought to the house after her car broke down. She warns Eun-su that the kids are dangerous & not to be trusted. Eun-su tries to leave again but meets Man-bok in the forest, he is accompanied by a lay preacher & his wife whose car has broken down. What is the children’s sinister secret & who is the preacher & what does he want with the children?
Hansel & Gretel is a wonderful movie, it brings to mind classic Tim Buton (circa Edward Scissorhands) & Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) yet in many ways this movie even eclipses those directors & their movies. It is yet another example of why, when it comes to the horror genre the Korean film industry seems to be head & shoulders above every one else. Visually the movie is stunning. The cinematography & set design are superb. The interior of the house looks incredible & the scenes in the forest are, at times breathtaking. The movie is quite long, clocking in at just under two hours. Director Yim-pil Sung takes his time weaving his plot, giving plenty of time for character development. The acting is first-rate, each & every cast member puts in a faultless performance. The acting by the three child actors is staggeringly good with a special mention to Shim-eun Kyung who plays Young-hee. Her performance at the movies’ climax is incredibly emotional & powerful. What Yim-pil Sung has created with Hansel & Gretel is a wonderfully dark adult fairytale. Visually stunning & carefully scripted, it’s a truly a minor masterpiece. It’s a complex movie & not just another “evil children” movie. While the children seem to be the villains of the piece, as the movie draws towards its climax all is not what it seems. If you fail to be moved by this movie then quite frankly you have no soul. I will admit this movie will not appeal to everyone. Anyone looking for endless gore & carnage will be incredibly disappointed. This is not a traditional horror movie. But for anyone looking for something different & intelligent should look no further than this movie.
Are you still sitting here reading this? Go see this movie, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed, instead you will be rewarded with something special. Not that I really need to say it but this film is highly recommended.
“Its like a drawing that has a second one hidden within it”
Don’t Look Back is the second film from writer/director Marina de Van. Her debut feature In My Skin really impressed me & I will admit I had a few doubts that Don’t Look Back would match In My Skin‘s high standards. I needn’t have worried, Don’t Look Back is a stunning movie & Miss de Van is rapidly becoming one of my favourite moviemakers.
Jeanne (Sophie Marceau) is a successful non fiction writer, happily married with two children. Despite her success she yearns to write fiction & is working on a semi autobiographical story of childhood, which is proving difficult since she has no memories of her childhood. Slowly at first she begins to notice small changes around her house. Layouts change, as does the decor. Jeanne becomes increasingly worried when she starts to see changes not only in the appearance of her husband & children but also in her own reflection in the mirror. These changes become stronger, her hair changes colour, one eye changes shape. She confides in her husband & later as they are having sex she looks up & her husband no longer looks like she perceives him to be. Frantic & scared Jeanne goes to see her mother, who after a brief conversation changes appearance too. By now Jeanne’s reflection in the mirror is no longer what Jeanne believes she looks like, instead she sees a completely different looking woman (Monica Bellucci). Jeanne looks at some old photos & sees a photo of her as a young girl with her mother & another woman taken in Italy. The photo triggers something in Jeanne & she travels to Italy in search of some answers.
Don’t Look Back is, to put it simply a wonderfully crafted, complex psychological horror movie. Marina de Van takes her time establishing characters & slowly draws you (the audience) in, keeping you gripped until the credits roll. If it wasn’t for some minor quibbles (more on those later) this movie would have made my Hall Of Fame. In Sophie Marceau & Monica Bellucci, de Van had two incredibly talented actresses who are both on top of their game in this movie. They both put in brilliant performances, effortlessly carrying their halves of the movie. The rest of the cast is good too. The film looks amazing, the cinematography is first-rate & the CGI used to morph Sophie Marceau into Monica Bellucci is subtle yet effectively done (even the hybrid Marceau/Bellucci), meaning for once you don’t get taken out of the movie by being impressed with obvious CGI. Don’t Look Back like its predecessor In my Skin does contain elements of body horror. It seems to be a recurring theme with de Van & while nowhere near as graphic & disturbing there are some strange elements of deformation in the movie. As i mentioned earlier I do have some minor quibbles (one majorish one if I am totally honest) The movies score is completely underwhelming, it just didn’t add anything to the atmosphere of the film. At the beginning of the movie Jeanne notices her family making strange hand gestures & movements. These scenes are incredibly creepy yet no explanation is ever given for them. Maybe de Van put them in just to unsettle the audience but that seems a cheap trick for such a talented writer. My last quibble & the most major one I cannot reveal here as it is a major plot spoiler to do with Jeanne’s husband.
If you’re looking for an intelligent slow burning horror movie, look no further than this. A wonderful movie from an obvioulsy talented director. I, for one am looking forward to seeing what Marina de Van does next. Until then Don’t Look Back comes highly recommended.
“You won’t die from getting your hand cut off, after all I only have one arm too”
I must start this review with an apology for the heavy Asian bias on the site at the moment. Rest assured there are some European reviews on the way soon. For today’s review its back to Japan for 2008’s The Machine Girl, an over the top splatterfest directed by Noboru Iguchi, the man responsible for RoboGeisha & Mutant Girl Squad, with special effects by Yoshihiro Nishimura who would go on to direct Tokyo Gore Police.
Ami is a high school student living with her younger brother Yu after their parents were framed for murder & committed suicide. Yu & his friend Takeshi are in trouble with the school bully Sho the son of a vicious Yakuza gang leader Ryugi. Sho & his gang throw both Takeshi & Yu off a building killing them both, distraught Ami swears to seek revenge. She goes to Sho’s house but is overpowered by the Ryugi & his bodyguards. Ami is beaten & tortured, losing an arm in the process. After managing to escape she makes her way to the garage run by Siguru & Miki (Takeshi’s parents) The couple agree to help her & while Siguru builds Ami a new machine gun arm, Miki starts to train Ami in combat. Ryugi tracks down Ami & sends a squad of ninja assassins to kill her. In the subsequent battle Siguru is killed, but not before he has finished the machine gun. The two women then arm themselves (Miki with a chainsaw) & head to Ryugi’s hideout for the showdown.
The Machine girl is another over the top splatter film in the style of Vampire Girl Versus Frankenstein Girl & Tokyo Gore Police. The plot is a secondary device used purely to link the scenes of action & carnage. The end result is just dammed enjoyable. The fight scenes are well choreographed & the splatter while not at all realistic is done with a real zeal & trust me there is a lot of splatter in this movie. Limbs are hacked off, faces sliced open, hands are deep-fried, faces pulped & the arterial blood sprays literally soak the screen. It’s a movie with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. The drill bra has to be seen to be believed & The Super Mourners squad had me in tears of laughter. The acting ranges from passable to downright awful yet somehow that doesn’t really matter. Minase Yashiro as Ami & Asami as Miki put in decent performances as does Honoka as Ryugi’s vicious wife. The rest of the cast ham it up for all they are worth, with special mention going to Kentaro Shimazu as Ryugi whose performance is so over the top it makes Vincent Price look like a subtle & restrained actor. While the movie’s energy & sense of fun can compensate for most of the film’s flaws, the CGI is dreadful & should never have been used. While the practical effects are a mixed bag quality wise, the CGI looks awful & does detract from the movie as a whole. fortunately for all it’s flaws Machine Girl’s positives outweigh the negatives & the movie provides a hugely enjoyable 90 minutes of insane carnage & craziness.
In closing The Machine Girl is a great beer & pizza movie. If You liked Vampire Girl Versus Frankenstein Girl or Tokyo Gore Police you will love this. An outrageous over the top splatter fest with a huge sense of fun, highly recommended.
“For one million Baht you have to be shared”
Art Of The Devil is a horror film from Thailand dealing with witchcraft & directed by Tanit Jitnukul. Sadly despite being one of the better known horror films from Asia in truth it isn’t a great movie & the blame for this lays firmly on the director’s shoulders.
Boom is a young girl who meets Pratan, a successful & married businessman. The two embark on an affair & Boom soon falls pregnant. When Boom tells Pratan she is pregnant he gives her one million Baht for her silence but tells her he won’t leave her. Later he wakes her, informing her that for one million Baht she must be shared. As Pratan uses a camcorder, Boom is chased & gang raped by some of Pratan’s friends. Boom interrupts a family birthday party for Pratan’s daughter, telling him one million Baht isn’t enough. Furious, Pratan drags Boom outside & throws a wad of money at Boom while repeatedly slapping her. He warns her never to come near his family again. Boom enlists the help of a black magic priest to take revenge on Pratan & his family. Once Pratan & his family are dead, Boom makes an offering to the spirits & as she leaves sees a vision of the dead family & is hit by a car. Boom loses her baby in the accident. Pratan’s first wife inherits his house & fortune & Boom infiltrates this family by marrying the eldest son. Boom starts to use black magic to dispose of this family to claim the house & money for herself.
I’m still not sure quite how he managed it but Tanit Jitnukul took all the ingredients of a good movie & somehow turned them into the mess that is Art Of The Devil. It should have been a great movie. The story is sound enough, the acting is decent & the SFX are ok. It is the manner in which Jitnukul tells the story that ruins Art Of The Devil. The non linear narrative does the movie no favours & wanders almost aimlessly. The exposition is done in black & white in the present & the bulk of the story is told as flashbacks. Sadly this is handled badly & the film becomes muddled & confused. Subplots are thrown in at random, like the reporter who begins to suspect witchcraft & the Albino child spirit who is never completely explained & doesn’t really make sense given what she is. For a film of this type there is also a distinct lack of atmosphere & tension. Even at the movie’s climax it lacks any urgency or drama & just meanders to the end credits. The shame of it is that with a little care this could have been good. Supaksorn Chaimongkol puts in a good performance as Boom & Arisa Wills as Nan, the film’s main protagonist puts in a decent performance too. Most of the cast do the best they can with the script. Some of the death scenes work well, standouts being the vomiting of razor blades & Nan’s brother smothered by eels. Sadly the positives just don’t outweigh the negatives & it is that which makes Art Of The Devil a missed opportunity.
Sadly I just cannot recommend Art Of The Devil. It should have been good but it truly is poorly made & ultimately disappointing.