Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ghost Game (Laa-thaa-phii)

The premise seemed interesting enough - a group of game contestants undertaking the ultimate dare, to rough it out in an unused prison renowned for its haunting given that it was the location of a massacre. The news film reel style at the beginning, without showing much gore, already set the atmosphere and mood, providing much anticipated scares for our 11 contestants. Again I'm sad to say that this horror flick didn't work for me.

It seemed like a bit of Battle Royale meeting Truman Show mixed with Survivor elements. While Battle Royale had a group of students sent to an island for them to whack the living daylights out of each other, in this one our motley crew had to rely more on psychology to outplay, outwit and outlast each other, as well as the supernatural elements. There's something in common though, in that they had ex-winners re-enter the competition. There're plenty of CCTV cameras and public announcement speakers installed throughout where instructions are yelled through, and images are recorded for public broadcast in the show Ghost Game.

Like Survivor, there were plenty of decisions made in the spirit of that game, together with familiar elements of alliances and mistrust, of second guessing good intentions and making wild conjectures, all in the name of playing the game and emerging the winner for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Which actually left the scares wanting. Unfortunately we had to fall back on the usual lame quick cuts, sudden camera zooms, and extreme close ups accompanied by loud beats to race heartbeats. It might even leave you wondering about that aged old saying, that only if you're unlucky, could you see spirits wandering around you. Here, sightings aren't consistent if that aged old saying is to be believed, and that could be a bit frustrating. Setting the game to coincide with the anniversary of the massacre seemed like common sense for television ratings,

As a side, the eleven contestants here are actually from a variety show called Academy Fantasia in Thailand, and in similar fashion, they get "voted off" here too. The gem however turned out to be the scene played during the end credits, where the contestants come out to say a few words prior to being sent to the game location. Plenty of cheese as they ham it up in character, and watching it in hindsight, you can't help but to feel a tinge of despair.

P.S. I've read that the filmmakers had to apologize given the premise of the prison seemed to have cut too close to the Cambodian's Toul Sieng prison during the Khmer Rouge regime, with the depiction of genocide, and the loose reference in the movie in the form of a game show.

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