“Phobia 2” (ห้าแพร่ง/Ha Prang)

I watched this Thai horror anthology over the course of two days. Each short is a polished little slice of familiar horror pie. Nothing really new, but what’s on offer is very slick and well-realized, from the dialogue to the cinematography. Here’s the Wiki, in case you’re interested.

The protagonist of “Novice” does a great job looking scared and angry. Also he eats ramen and pisses off a ghost.

My favorite of the vignettes were the first, “Novice,” and the last, “In the End.” “Novice” is about a boy sent to live with a community of Buddhist monks out in the jungle, apparently against his will. Buddhist beliefs about hungry ghosts are the foundations of this simple tale, and I appreciate that immensely. It pulls the right strings, reveals just the right amount, and leaves you feeling a little sick–not as a result of grotesque sights, but because of the suffering caused by singular acts of selfishness. The monks offer compelling commentary on the main character’s plight, and their “There’s nothing we can do” attitude is chilling.

The last story is a humorous meta piece spoofing the whole horror genre, and Asian horror in particular. It’s about the cast and crew of a familiar-looking horror flick as they approach the film’s final scene. There are a lot of amusing, if not outright funny moments, as when the director tells his assistant that the female ghost needs more hair in her face. Likewise, when the central characters are fleeing from a (supposed) ghost, and try to start a car without success, one of them frantically observes, “This is like a bad horror movie!”

The best part is that the director and his crew are trying to find a way to insert an original twist ending into their movie. What they come up with is actually reflected in the events unfolding around the cast and crew as they struggle with their own haunting, and the overall effect is pretty funny and very satisfying (the ending sort of Mulligans this aspect of the piece, though).

You can watch the whole thing at Asian-Horror-Movies (Google it–for some reason I suspect they wouldn’t appreciate it if I linked to them directly). It’s worth a look.

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