After watching the trailer of Thai film PHOBIA 2 (which gave me serious heart palpitations by the way), I didn’t think I had the courage to sit through the entire screening. So I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to sit through all 5 short stories AND enjoyed the experience at Toronto After Dark tonight. [Warning: spoiler alert...do not continue reading if you plan to watch the film]
In three of the five stories – “Novice”, “Backpackers”, “Salvage” – there is the underlying theme of redemption and karma. Don’t kill your Daddy or you will turn into a tree. Don’t feed narcotics to little kids or you will be attacked by zombies. Don’t sell lemons or you will…ok, I think you get the point. This was like the ‘fear factor’ version of Life Lessons 101. In the second story, “Ward”, a master who has been vegetated in the hospital is reincarnated into his fellow inpatient’s body. Of course, all of this is not without gore and excessive red splatters. My favourite had to be “In the End”, where Dir. Banjong Pisanthanakun reenacts a film crew playing a film crew who are shooting a horror film sequel (sound familiar?). In an effort to create an ending with a twist that has never been done before, they end up combining every possible twist you could imagine. I jumped and laughed so much by the time it was all over, I had a new appreciation (and thicker skin) for horror.
For me, there is something about Asian horror that is so much more terrifying than horror films coming out of Hollywood. Perhaps, it’s because you often get the unexpected. Or maybe it’s the commonly used themes of Buddhist principles that one can relate to. Or all the supposedly true haunted tales I grew up hearing from the far East. Or maybe it is just the long-straggly-black-hair-draped-in-face look. Heck, put a sweaty black wig on a watermelon and I would probably jump. All I know is, I have now added caves, car dealerships, and hitch-hiking to my running list of phobias.