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.
“Why pray when Prayers are useless?”
Ghost Game is a Taiwanese movie from 2006 that caused a lot of controversy upon its release due to the movie’s setting which echoed The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which is a memorial in Cambodia to the killing fields during The Khmer Rouge’s time in power. The movie is banned in Cambodia & caused a great deal of tension between the two countries.
In Ghost Game 11 contestants are brought to an old war museum in Cambodia which was the site of dreadful atrocities committed by the communist troops on the inmates during the reign of the infamous Khmer Rouge, ending in a “Jonestown” type mass slaughter. Accompanied by the by the makers of the game show, the contestants enter the prison, each hoping to win the competition & prize money of 5 million Baht. The producers of the show have set up various tricks to spook the contestants into leaving until only one remains. It’s not long before contestants & crew disturb the spirits of the victims of the prison & the game becomes a deadly matter of life & death.
The plot of Ghost Game is simple enough. It combines elements of Battle Royale, R-Point & My Little Eye to make an effective movie. The trouble with Ghost Game is it’s sub genre. The ghost genre is a popular topic in Asian horror & the market is virtually flooded with these sorts of film. From the aforementioned R-Point, through the popular Ringu & Ju-on films to the classic Shutter there are literally hundreds of ghost movies in Asian cinema. This means that for any film of this type it really has to shine to be noticed. Ghost Game sadly doesn’t. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, far from it. Despite having it’s faults Ghost Game is a well made & competent movie. it just lacks that extra something that makes the likes of Shutter so good. The movie has some real highpoints. The setting of the movie is wonderfully creepy. The abandoned prison is a grim & foreboding place & provides a wonderful setting for the film. The cinematography is wonderful. The movie is bathed in a greenish hue which really works for the movie’s atmosphere. The whole reality TV show theme also, despite being a well-worn genre idea works quite well. The contrast of what is seen in the prison compared to what is shown on the banks of TV monitors in the control room works well. But Ghost Game is not without its flaws. There are too many characters & virtually no time is given to any characterisation. This leaves the movie with a group of stereotypical characters that it’s hard to warm to. The pacing of the movie isn’t great either. A long time is spent building up to a climax that seems very rushed. My last problem with Ghost Game may be more to do with me than the film. I am not a big fan of ghost movies. I generally find them dull. Unless the movie is something truly great like the wonderfully creepy Shutter this genre tends to leave me cold. Despite my love of Asian horror I even find classics like Ringu & Dark Water to be dull. Ghost Game didn’t really give me any sense of tension & atmosphere & seemed to rely on cheap & at times obvious jumps to illicit a reaction. I will say at least the movie avoided the clichéd “ghost with long hair” which seems to be a constant in these types of movie.
In closing Ghost Game is by no means a bad movie, it’s worth a watch & easily passed an hour & a half of my time. It just didn’t reach the heights it could have done. If you like a good ghost movie you could do a lot worse. Certainly worth a watch, just not spectacular.
“I have to marry a woman”
A Christmas day review, yes I’m bored. I have been watching a lot of Asian horrors recently & still have a few to watch so the site will have a heavy Asian bias for a while. Today’s review is yet another Taiwanese horror, Sick Nurses. This movie is often criticised but in my opinion is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe.
The plot of Sick Nurses is pretty straight forward. Dr Tar works in a Bangkok hospital, along with seven nurses he is selling dead bodies on the black market. One of the nurses Tahwaan is in love with Dr Tar & believes he will marry her. She finds out her own sister Nook has been having an affair with Dr Tar & is pregnant by him & they plan to marry. Feeling betrayed Tahwaan threatens to call the police, before she can act she is captured by Dr Tar & the other six nurses & murdered. Her body is then placed on ice in the boot of Dr Tar’s car to be sold. According to Taiwanese folklore a spirit may return seven days after death & Tahwaan does exactly this to seek vengeance on her killers.
Sick Nurses does not set out to be high art or a nerve shredding creepfest. It is in essence part ghost story & part slasher. Tahwaan’s ghost is similar in style to the kind of apparition that can be seen in films like Ringu or Ju-on, but is much more prominent. Tahwaan’s ghost uses some inventive & gory ways to dispatch her killers including possession & it is here that the movie drifts into slasher territory as the nurses & haunted & killed one by one. It is these death scenes where the movie is at its best. Using both traditional ghost scares & some strong scenes of bloodshed & gore. The deaths are well staged & thought out. From the handbag decapitation to the movies standout scene where one of the nurses is forced to chew glass until she shreds her lower jaw off. The movie also ends with quite an interesting twist, one I certainly didn’t see coming. Having praised the movie so far it is not without its downsides. Ok let’s be honest here, this movie has a group of good-looking young Taiwanese actresses in tight-fitting nurses uniforms. While the movie attempts to cash in on this at the beginning, it seems to lose its nerve. Yes there are scenes of the nurses dancing round in shorts & whatever but no nudity. Now let me add I am not someone who needs nudity in my films, but if you are going to film a shower scene, either film it from the shoulders up or have the person naked. In Sick Nurses one of the nurses showers fully clothed, please! It just looks stupid. The movie needed to either to make the most of its good-looking cast or avoid that kind of thing all together. The other problem with the movie echoes the first flaw. The film doesn’t really know what it wants to be. As a ghost story it fails to illicit any real jumps or scares & as a slasher it is average at best. Directors Pirapan Laoyont & Thodsapol Siriwiwat would have been better served making either a full on ghost story or a mean-spirited slasher, not a mixture of the two.
When all is said & done Sick Nurses is an ok movie, certainly worth a watch as it will entertain for an hour & a half, just don’t expect too much. If you want a creepy, scary movie, watch the amazing Shutter instead. If you want a slasher try Invitation Only. Having said that if you get the chance, ignore the haters & give Sick Nurses a try.
“There was a girl under the kitchen sink”
I probably use the words “genius” & “masterpiece” too often on this site, but when it comes to A Tale Of Two Sisters those words are completely apt. It truly is a remarkable movie. One that needs repeated viewings to discover all the subtleties in a wonderfully crafted piece of storytelling. Director Kim Ji-woon has made one of the greatest psychological horror movies ever to grace the big screen.
As the movie begins Su-mi is brought home from a psychiatric hospital by her father, she is accompanied by her shy, introverted sister Su-yeon. Once at the house they are greeted by their stepmother Eun-joo. Su-mi is openly hostile towards Eun-joo & tensions between the two soon start to come to the boil. Su-yeon is experiencing nightmares about the girl’s real mother & takes comfort in Su-mi’s presence. Su-mi soon begins to suspect Eun-joo of physically abusing Su-Yeon & promises to protect her. Eun-joo complains to the girl’s father Mo-hyeon that since the girls returned to the house that there have been strange occurences, she sees a girl under the kitchen sink & her pet birds are found dead in her bed.
A Tale Of Two Sisters is a hard movie to write a plot synopsis for, as the movie gives subtle hints to the unfolding horror from the start. The plot itself is a multi-layered piece of slow burning horror, complete with a couple of jaw dropping plot twists that makes you (the viewer) completely re-evaluate what you have already seen. Director Kim Ji-woon takes his time with both story & characterisation. Allowing the audience to be drawn into the movie. He has made, in many ways an old-fashioned gothic horror story. One which slowly crawls under your skin, creating a genuine air of unease. The house, while maintaining some modern aspects is suitably dark & foreboding. The acting is exceptional all round. It would be impossible to single any cast member out, as each role is played perfectly. Describing any plot details is difficult as it would be very easy to give away minor plot spoilers. A Tale of Two Sisters is a movie you really need to watch knowing as little as possible. It is a movie that demands concentration, allowing the viewer to piece together the story & mystery as the plot unfolds. I have seen some reviews describe the movie as confusing & muddled. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a movie that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience. Instead allowing them to discover the truth without being spoonfed the plot. This is a movie of rare depth & stands as a perfect example of just how good this genre of horror can truly be.
Please don’t take my word for it, watch this movie. It stands head & shoulders above the likes of The Grudge, Dark Water & Ringu. Possibly only Noroi can match the claustrophobic tension this movie creates. An unparralled masterpiece.
“Jane? You’re early”
Shutter is a Thai horror film from 2004. It’s also one of the best ghost stories you will ever see. Shutter easily stands up alongside the best ghost films the Japanese film industry has produced. Writer/directors Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom have created something special with Shutter.
After spending the evening drinking with friends, Tun & Jane are involved in a car accident when Jane hits a woman on the road. Tun insists they don’t stop & they leave the woman lying in the road. Tun is a professional photographer & begins to notice strange white shadows in his pictures & what also resembles ghostly faces. Jane begins to suspect these may be the ghost of the girl they hit on the road. Tun visits a doctor because he has been experiencing uncomfortable neck pain. While at the doctors he is weighed by a nurse & shocked to find he has gained a considerable amount of weight. As he is leaving he hears a voice calling him a liar. Tun’s friends begin to admit to being haunted by a ghostly girl. Jane decides to investigate & discovers the girl in the photos is a girl called Natre who went to college with Tun. Jane confronts Tun & he admits to having a relationship with Natre. Tun’s friends begin to commit suicide & slowly Jane begins to unravel the shocking truth about Tun & Natre.
The Thai horror film industry is certainly gaining momentum. Art Of The Devil & its sequels, Silk & Ghost Of Mae Nak are all good movies but Shutter stands out as the cream of the crop. Shutter is a film that truly captures a creepy & atmospheric tone that most so-called scary movies never get close to. In my opinion this movie far outstrips the likes of Ringu & Dark Water. Possibly only Noroi & A Tale Of Two Sisters can match the slow burning intensity of mood that Shutter creates. The acting is first-rate & the film’s pacing is near perfect. Shutter isn’t a film that relies heavily on special effects, its strength lies in its atmosphere & mood. The soundtrack especially enhances the air of unease that prevails throughout the movie. There are some truly outstanding scenes in this movie, none more so than one involving Tun in his darkroom becoming aware of someone being in the room with him. The movie’s conclusion is stunning & the imagery will remain in your head long after the movie has finished. The movie does have one weakness, as it is central to the movie’s mystery I cannot really go into any great detail. All I can say is that the shame felt by one character should have been felt by the many, if you see this film you will understand my last statement. It is a minor quibble but due to its importance to the movie it could be seen as being detrimental to the film’s effectiveness. Sadly the movie has already been remade by Hollywood & the result is dreadful. It never ceases to amaze me that even with the template of perfectly made originals, 9 times out of 10 Hollywood will completely foul up any remake.
Shutter is a wonderful movie that if you haven’t yet seen you really need to. It’s a perfect introduction to Thai horror movies & a wonderfully creepy film. Highly recommended.
“Am I pretty?”
Carved is a movie based on the Japanese legend of The Kuchisake-onna. It’s also directedby Koji Shiraishi, the director responsible for the amazing Noroi. Part ghost story, part tale of redemption, Carved is a film that doesn’t follow the generalised conventions of the genre. Sadly for a film with so much potential, it really isn’t very good.
AS the movie begins there have been a spate of child kidnappings. Many locals blame The Kuchisake-onna. At the local elementary school where some of the abducted children were pupils, the staff provide escorts for the children to & from school in an effort to keep them safe. One of the teachers Yamashita Kyoko learns that one of her students doesn’t want to go home because she is beaten by her abusive mother. This strikes a chord with Kyoko as she lost custody of her own child after being herself guilty of abuse. As Kyoko & the child talk, The Kuchisake-onna appears, wearing a surgical mask & holding a very large pair of scissors. She abducts the child & leaves Kyoko to explain the disappearance to the police. The police dismiss her claims & it is left to her & Matsuzaki Noboru, a fellow teacher & the only person who believes her, to discover the truth about the slit mouthed woman & the fate of the children.
I really wanted to like this film, I really did but it’s such a disappointment. Shiraishi may have been responsible of Noroi, but he also made the lacklustre Grotesque as well. Here Shiraishi’s movie fails to elicit any kind of atmosphere or tension. The pacing is slow & the climax of the film is lame & clichéd. Carved is riddled with problems, none more than the movie’s lead is completely unsympathetic. After all this is a woman who beat her own child. It can be argued that Kyoko’s character in the film is driven by the desire to gain redemption by saving the child, but the fact remains, she is a child abuser. Another problem with the movie crops up when it is translated from Japanese to English. Part of the story revolves around the phrase “Am I pretty?” being mis-heard. I’m sure in Japanese that phrase & the phrase it should have been sound similar, in English they sound nothing like each other. The films one highpoint is the slit mouthed woman herself. A genuinely menacing creation, The Kuchisake-onna differs from a lot of Japanese ghosts & spirits from the movies in the fact she is seen in daylight right from the beginning of the movie. Sadly this just isn’t enough to save the movie.
In closing there are countless better movies out there than Carved, a missed opportunity.