Wednesday, February 10

Phobia 2 (Thailand, 2009)

The sequel curse plagues Phobia 2 (ห้าแพร่ง/Ha Prang), not so much in direction as it does in composition, in the gaping silence between screams. A shame really because this is more surefooted than the original, driven by the horrors of road accidents and lurking mysteries that seduce and terrorize.

Seductive, that dark charm that lures us in, 4bia had plenty of. From the longing to connect in Ngao/Loneliness to the deliciously creepy miss en scene of a corpse in an empty plane in Teaw Bin 244/Flight 244, 4bia tickled and chewed on our imagination. Phobia 2, in keeping with the theme maybe, lost the ability to seduce with frights that drive by in a flash, as opposed to building up the creepy. Novice seems to be the most balanced in storytelling, with a weighty reveal that jolts. That last bit in the woods was difficult to watch---I knew how painful it would get but I couldn't help but watch it. This push and pull of terror and curiosity, though not as overwhelming as Loneliness, saves Novice from its "fantastic" end, (Geek Hint: Terry Brook's Sword of Shannara).

Ward has an interesting premise but falls short of actual surprise, with nothing much more to offer if you've seen the trailer.

Backpackers. Now, I'm a Songyos Sugmakanan fan and this man can do wonders with characterization, and can twist emotions as well as plots, but Backpackers is just…okay. He doesn't really add much to the zombie genre and the camera work is 28 Days Later familiar.

Salvage doesn't make much sense; the retribution was a little too much for just being a bitch. The scares are as obvious as the danger music, and I felt that the lead didn't really deliver. This could've been a great acting piece, but the lack of connection, of escalating desperation has made this difficult to get into.

In the End, I gather from the other reviews I've read, has become this installment's favorite segment. It is quite clever, and the four guys from 4bia's In the Middle, are still delivering the funnies. Marsha Wattanapanich is totally game playing herself---but not really her self---but the end feels forced, just so it could fit into the theme.

In the end, Phobia 2 does feel like driving past a car crash. Curiosity turns to fear. Fear turns to pity. And then you move to wherever you were headed to, driving away and forgetting. **

1 comment:

Kevin (Ket) said...

I like your comparison of the movie to driving past a car crash. Not typically the way I typically think of something, since I have trouble finding such metaphors.

But I agree, "Novice" and "In the End" are definitely the most watchable parts of the movie. It's unfortunate about "Backpackers" that once you've seen one zombie thriller, you've probably seen them all. I also wonder if Japanese foreigners is going to be a recurring trend in Sugmakanan's movies.