Friday, September 18, 2009

Phobia 2 (5 Phrang)

Alone Again

With the success of 4bia, it's a no brainer for the sequel to be made, now with the addition of Visute Poolvoralaks joining the original team of four in contributing to an anthology that sees each helming a segment, an opportunity to showcase their brand of scare tactics.

This time round though, gone are those unifying moments in one another's stories (like news segments etc) that provided a link of sorts that threaded throughout, though I can't help but to notice that motor-vehicles now took over as a common plot element. The runtime too is also a tad longer given the involvement of 5 directors and their shorts, and I felt almost all had areas where it could be trimmed to allow for a tighter run time. Nonetheless Phobia 2 still makes for a thrilling, scary and comedic horror film outing, with enough bandwidth for a franchised, crowd-pleasing series.

Novice – Paween Purijitpanya
Given his part to play in a crime, Pey (Jirayu Laongmanee) gets hidden away in a monastery by his parents, but for the evil Pey has committed, no holy place will serve to be his refuge, and he gets haunted by his guilt. It goes to show that Karma will catch up with you no matter where you're at, and just deserts will get served. Very well thought out with its narrative, and great use of special effects especially in the last scene. The animal battle is something to behold, and will likely give you the creeps as well. I felt this film had set the bar in its mature presentation of its theme and story that the rest had to follow, but being an anthology, managed to cut the rest some slack.

Ward – Visute Poolvoralaks
The lead character here probably is the world's most unluckiest patient. Warded after a motorcycle accident which provided a scene of bloody gore, he gets warded next to a brain-dead old man, with mean looking relatives and visitors. As the adage goes for curiosity, there are plenty of scare tactics employed to heighten anticipation and build suspense, playing up cliches for dark comedy. It's pretty standard fare with an outcome that you'd come to expect, though credit must go to Dan Worrawech as the one-man show transforming from cheeky, to outright scared.

Sound department was top notch though, as it worked the surround sound of the cinema perfectly, so much so that my friend had thought I had fallen asleep, by virtue of snores coming out of speakers from my direction.

Backpackers – Songyos Sugmakanan
This was fun, although it took a while to build up given its back story of drug mules and trafficking. It's a little gimmicky too involving a Japanese couple hitchhiking on the wrong vehicle at the wrong time of course, only to find themselves stuck in the middle of an inexplicable chain of events involving, well, zombies. You can tell that director Sugmakanan was influenced to craft his zombies after 28 Days/Weeks Later, the fast-running variety, rather than the lumbering undead of George A Romero's.

I would have loved to see this as a feature film though (yeah, I'm a zombie-fan), and its ending leaves plenty of room, perhaps to be continued in Phobia 3 (I wish!). Don't expect some aspects of this short to make sense though, just accept it for the campy fun that it is at certain points, and enjoy.

Salvage – Parkpoom Wongpoom
This segment is probably the simplest amongst all storywise, which had great premise though its execution seemed to reflect more from contemporary films such as Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, and Franck Khalfoun's P2. Nuch (Nicole Theriault) is an unscrupulous car saleswoman who accepts vehicles damaged in accident on the cheap, sends it for some massive refurbishment and repairs, before passing them off as near brand new for unsuspecting customers to purchase.

With horror films, you know that the guilty parties will be duly punished, though this film does seem to borrow a couple of scenes from the mentioned Hollywood films, especially with Nuch going up against the supernatural in the confines of a cramped car cabin, or going about conducting a search from within a sprawling car park. It's a standard, average fare that sets out to do exactly what it planned to, with some special effects thrown in as good measure.

In The End – Banjong Pisanthanakun
Helmed by Pisanthanakun who did In The Middle in 4bia, here he's shrewdly the last slate because it wrapped everything on a high with his brand of hormedy, and would bound to leave you remembering this crowd-pleaser rather than some of the relatively serious approach that preceded it. Pisanthanakun reunites his original cast from the first film, since the formula isn't broke (so why fix it), and continues his very tongue-in-cheek take at horror films, this time adding Marsha Wattanapanich into the mix, and having the characters here as filmmakers making Alone 2.

This simple short impressed upon what a hormedy should be like, and Jack Neo clearly can take lessons from Pisanthanakun in learning how to make a film that had proper elements of both genres. The chemistry and interplay between all the male leads here also served up bucket loads of fun and laughter reminiscent of their effort from the first film, and Marsha just hams it up totally as the exaggerated, hypocrite bimbo who puts in the looniest performance of her life. It goes to show that people often scare themselves with preconceived, unverified notions, and rather err on the side of caution when dealing with superstition and the supernatural. Needless to say, I like this installment best.

Have fun with Phobia 2, because I know I did. If I had to rank them in descending order of preference and enjoyment, then it'll be In The End, Backpackers, Ward, Novice then Salvage.

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