Directed by: Monthon Arayungkoon
Starring: Pitchinart Sakakorn Apasiri Nitibhon
Set in Thailand, The Victim follows Ting, an aspiring actress as she gets a somewhat dubious first role with the local Police Department playing murder and assault victims in crime re-enactments.
Ting warms to the rather grisly subject matter and her popularity grows and she becomes the go-to girl for all the Police Divisions in the city. Eventually she is asked to portray Miss World Contender and National Celeb ‘Meen’ whose husband is facing trial for her Murder.
As she researches the case to prepare for her performance, Ting begins to suspect that the case is not as open and shut as the Police investigator Lt Te thinks. She becomes obsessed with Meen’s life and death, and drawn further into the events surrounding them, and as she does terrifying inexplicable things begin to happen to her and the people around her.
This is an intriguing film. The first Thai horror I’ve seen in actual fact, and I rather think an extremely good example.
Before I go any further I want to make it clear that there is a lot more to this film than any responsible review will tell you. The plot takes more than one completely unexpected turn, and the characters develop entirely new depths. Try if possible to watch this without learning too much about it, and when you have seen it try just as hard not to share too much with people who haven’t seen it yet, remember no-one likes a spoiler.
I’ll go no further on this point except to remind you all of the incomparable thrill of seeing ‘event’ movies like Memento, Blair Witch, and Dusk till dawn without any prior knowledge. Something I was lucky enough to experience and am grateful for.
This multi layered masterpiece of a horror film opens fairly predictably with the sweet naïve young actor Ting dreaming of advancing herself from the life of anonymous inner city poverty, and quickly getting miles out of her depth.
The case she is re-enacting is the murder of a national icon supposedly commited by her husband, but unseen forces seem to be pointing the finger of blame in entirely unexpected directions. Ting begins to feel that she is not alone. Someone or something appears to have followed her home from the murder site. Meanwhile the dashing police Lieutenant gamely struggles to comprehend what exactly is happening as events become more baffling and sinister.
The characters are likeable if a little predictable, and well directed. The young cast carry themselves and the plot very well with Ting laying it on quite thick with the innocent appeal. Moments of humour are frequent and the whole thing has a very entertaining feel to it, which is a nice counterpoint to the growing menace.
Arayungkoon Directs well and knows his way around shock moments. Nothing is over- done and the Fright scenes are excellent. They begin ever so slowly and subtly with half glimpsed figures on the edge of the characters perception and build gradually.
Ting's character is so schoolgirl innocent and the initial storyline idea so hokey and unlikely that the building supernatural tension is all the more effective.
The soundtrack and atmosphere score is masterfully done as well, unobtrusive then impact making at all the right points. Impressively bridging a couple of very difficult plot transitions later on. As always the best Soundtrack, like the best Lighting should not be noticeable whilst actually watching. It is with hindsight that you realise a job like that has been so well done.
Reactions to what is happening are a high point for me. People behave exactly how I expect they would when confronted by some inexplicable horror that defies logic, rather than how we would like to think we would behave. There is a police officer quite early on who deserves some kind of award for his reaction, at once shocking and hilarious.
Most if not all of the elements here combine to make what starts off as a very good entertaining horror movie, but trust me there are pivotal moments part way through which force some spectacular changes onto the characters and take the Acting, Direction and all the associated components in entirely new directions. It becomes a surprisingly complex post-modern film, and the film making and acting all step up a notch.
This is truly a clever and original piece of film making, with to my mind only a very few comparable works. I only wish I’d had more experience of Thai horror before I saw it as I get the distinct impression that although the first portion of the movie has echoes of any horror movie on the planet it also pays affectionate homage to a genre little seen outside of Thailand or the far east.
The characters, initially, have a well-worn feel to them, the low budget aspect of the locations hints at cottage industry monster movie making. If Thai horrors are anything like this I’ll be happy to do my research retro-actively.
Finally I am of the opinion that one of us here at the Flash Bang Bunker will be reviewing the U.S remake of this in a year or two. Call it a hunch, but this seems just the sort of thing to excite the suits in Hollywood. As usual they’ll have the effects budget to make it look incredible (not that it doesn’t already. Proof that it’s not what you’ve got but how you use it that counts.) and a bunch of high profile names, but we all know it won’t be as cool by far. Watched it on my own in the dark. With Pizza. Well made, Scary, Inspired.
8 out of 10 (Sulaco)