Wednesday, April 15

Review: Coming Soon (Thailand, 2008)

โปรแกรมหน้า วิญญาณอาฆาต
Coming Soon
Directed by Sophon Sakdaphisit
Starring
Chantavit Ter Dhanasevi, Vorakarn Punch Rojjanavatchra

Coming Soon is compellingly bland. A movie within movie, the meta is unimposing but wonderfully palpable; the experience sells stronger than the fright.

Chen (Ter Chantavit) and Peoll, who work as Cineplex projectors, record preview copies of "coming soon" movies for film pirates. But the movie "Vengeful Spirit" strikes back when the reel villain, Chaba, crosses over to the real world. First time director, Sophon Sakdaphisit, who co-wrote Thai horror hits Shutter and Alone, should have drawn a stronger contrast between the two movies that went beyond set design and costumes. Perhaps the danger music that cues the scare should have been limited to "Vengeful Spirit" to set it apart from the actual movie, the real dark alleyways and dimly lit apartments where ghosts creep up on you menacingly quiet. As it is, I was more interested to see "Vengeful Spirit" in its entirety. Chaba is the witch of our nightmares, with piercing eyes, ratty gray hair and a dead leg that she drags when she walks; the creaking floorboards and the heavy weight of her crooked foot lagging along is what I would imagine to be the sound of a corpse being dragged to a shadowy corner.

For all its predictable set-ups and flat macabre, Coming Soon is surprisingly engrossing. The actors are relatable; boyish Ter Chantavit easily gains our sympathy as the man torn between making a living from piracy and the ex-boyfriend (husband?) who struggles to be a better person. The movie-within-a-movie idea is also carried out without much pretention, making it more involving and real for the audience; the merchandising of the film---posters, streamers, popcorn buckets---are characters themselves in the movie. I can only imagine what it must've felt like to be a moviegoer, to see the cineplex you're comfortably seated in become the setting of a horror movie that shares the same posters as the one you're watching. (I bought a DVD---loved the packaging---for my collection and borrowed a fansub for the English subtitles.)

Coming Soon is also about making movies. If Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on independent film-making, then Coming Soon carries the scar left by the rigid Thai censors. The cut scene of "Vengeful Spirit" holds the secret to unlocking the mystery of Chaba's haunting, possibly a metaphor for all the stories left untold.

The real horror now is this: Who knows how many more turning-points, revelations and point of views are left to be forgotten on the cutting-room floor?

3/5



15 comments:

dodo dayao said...

Akala ko si Christian Bautista yung bida. Hehe. Thor, dibidi o download?

Thor Bee said...

Oo nga no, Christian Bautista nga! Crush ko pa man din itong actor, parang ayaw ko na, hehehe!

Dibidi! Though may orig din ako na walang subs, ganda ng kasi ng digipak! At dahil na rin kay Ter. :p

Theo Martin said...

HElow. pahiram hehe! :) ang gagaling naman ng ideas. shet bakit di tayo makaisip ng ganun? o may nagiisip walang naproproduce?

Thor Bee said...

Hi, Theo! Malamang wala lang gustong mag-produce. Hehe. Or pinapa-rewrite ng mga produ.

dodo dayao said...

Uy! Pa-burn kahit yung pirata lang. Hehe. Inayos ko pala yung Korean Bug ng konti, may mga additional features. Hehe.

Thor Bee said...

Do, I saw! Active na active mga links, yehey! Sana parang twitch na nagbabago yung header pic, hehe.

Next step: PODCAST!!! Parang MST3K style, habang nanood ng dibidi!

dodo dayao said...

Pagaaralan ko yung nagpapalit-palit na headers pero sa podcast . . .mismo! Usong uso yan. mapapagkamalan tayong bata. . .kaya lang ang reference natin Mystery Science Theater 3000 . . . busted! Hehe.

Thor Bee said...

Do: MST3K, ang tanda ba? Malamang nga di na alam ng mga bata to. That, or "That's old na di ba?" Hahahaha!

Gandang project to. Aral na ako ng twhang!

WiseKwai said...

Coming Soon was pretty unsettling to watch in its regular theatrical run, with the same hanging-woman standees they use in the movie waiting for you in the lobby when you walk out. I don't know that the fear from that will translate for home viewing or film festivals, unless GTH is shipping a life-size hanging-woman standee with every DVD and festival print.

Thor Bee said...

Wise Kwai: Us home viewers are definitely missing out on the meta-fright of Coming Soon. Great idea with the standee being shipped, but will definitely be freaked out if I get one. :)

Kevin said...

Huh, I was thinking of getting this. The Hong Kong version has English subtitles and (as surprising luck would have it), the VLC player is Region free with an RPC-1 firmware drive. I have no idea what that means, but I was prepared to change my region coding for another DVD I bought, only to be pleasantly surprised that the computer asked me to do no such thing when I put it in.

But your review threw me off a bit. The very first line in your review is "Coming Soon is compellingly bland", but the rest of it sounds more on the positive side. I will probably buy it when I have more...spending power than I do now. Which gives me a lot of time to think about whether I really want it or not...

Thor Bee said...

I had a feeling, while watching the DVD, that Coming Soon was really made to be seen in a movie theater. The movie within a movie, the cineplex within a cineplex scare/ experience did not translate quite fully to home viewing. I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something.

Kevin (Ket) said...

Did you see what I saw in the movie? You noticed a lot of commentary in contemporary film industry.

But when I was watching, I found it interesting that the "Revengeful Spirit" story was based on a true story (in the world of Coming Soon I mean). Yet nobody seems to notice how exploitative that is to the real victims of the story. The main characters, though, end up going to the village where it actually happened and are see adults there that are missing their eyes.

But to add insult to the injury, a large banner is put up in the town advertising for "Revengeful Spirit", where the actress has huge, bulging eyes.

I just thought it was an interesting take on how exploitative the media can be sometimes.

Thor Bee said...

Great insight! Since censorship is such a huge issue here (and in Bangkok), that was what I latched on to. But now that you mentioned it, yes, the film has quite a strong statement on media exploitation and the power of media to influence perception and history.

WiseKwai said...

Darn you guys, now I want to see this again. Will darken the living room, turn up the aircon full blast and make some popcorn to get the cinema experience.