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The Dark Night: Phobia 2 Is Predictable but Still Thrills and Entertains

  Sorradithep Supachanya / 7 September 2009
   
 

In Thai cinemas seemingly endless pool of ghost movies, Phobia 2, a collection of five separate short horror stories by five different directors, still manages to stand out as a freshly frightening film that entertains and terrifies its audience every minute of its runtime.


 

Novice, the first short, tells a warning tale about a teenage boy who pays a gruesome price for his unforgivable sin. While sound effect and background music provide much of the predictable cues for the scary moments, the story itself takes us deep into the remotest jungle in the darkest nights where ghoulish creatures freely roam and petrify us. Jirayu La-Ongmanee (from The Legend of King Naresuan and The Love of Siam) shines in his first leading role, especially in the scene in which he breaks down from fruitlessly begging for the redemption that never comes. Arguably, this is the scariest of the five shorts.


 

Ward, the second short, reiterates how frightening an empty hospital ward at night can be, especially when a hapless man recuperating from broken legs rests on a bed next to a brain-dead patient who comes alive (and vengeful) when no one else is around. The shortest of all the shorts, the story lacks details and could be enriched by a possible discussion about science versus faith in the modern Thai society. This makes the storys concluding peripeteia, though good, seems rushed.




Backpackers, the third short, is Thailands answer to Hollywood zombie movies. While the plot simply copies the American formula, it still manages to take viewers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride from start to finish, as its protagonists try to outrun a horde of flesh-eating zombies. Of the five, this segment most deserves an expansion into a full-length feature to accommodate its rich subplots (e.g., zombie origin, romance between two leads, government reactions that can also serve as parables or satires). Director Songyos Sukmakanant (of Dorm and Hormone) and lead actor Charlie Trairat (also of Dorm and Hormone) once again prove a stellar duo.



Salvage, the fourth short, loses focus as the plot teeters between the protagonists fanatical search for her missing son and her being haunted by ghosts of the people who died in the cars that end up in her used automobile business. The story can be further deepened if the subjects of karma and chicanery, on which the entire story is based, are elaborated a little more. Nicole Theriault (from One-Night Husband) returns to big screen after a six-year absence and proves she hasnt faded one bit.


 

In the End, the last short, departs from the rest of the pack with a comical, reality-bending story that commands laughter more than sends chills down the spine. On the filming set of a fictional sequel to a popular real-life horror flick, Marsha Wattanapanit, lead actress of that real-life prequel, plays herself acting opposite an aspiring actress who dies while playing a ghost character (but returns to finish her part). Messy but funny, the plot traverses through so many twists and turns that it wittily echoes what the actor playing the director character in the short muses at one point: how the hell is he going to finish the film? Needless to say, the end is not predictable.

Sadly, though, the other four shorts are fairly predictable. But overall the film thrills and entertains. This goes to show that horror films need not be groundbreaking; they only need to do what horror films are supposed to do. And at that, Phobia 2 has done quite well.

   
   

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