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cast: Laila Boonyasak, Maneerat Kham-Uan, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk, Witawat Singlampong, and Pongsatorn Jongwilat
directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom, Youngyooth Thongkonthun, and Paween Purikitpanya
112 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 16:9
Icon DVD Region 2 retail
review by James A. Stewart
This is a film with almost as many other titles as parts, Phobia (aka: See prang) has also been marketed as 4bia (my favourite
title), and is effectively a four-part anthology within a film, each with a different cast and director as some of the most acclaimed Thai horror
and suspense pull together what is a very crafty set of vignettes.
The directors of Phobia (we'll use the UK release title) were also involved in well known movies such as Body 19 and Shutter.
It is an interesting concept to have four directors in a single release and in many ways it could make the whole release stronger as there is an
air of competition at play.
The first of the four stories is Happiness directed by Youngyooth Thongkonthun, and is a quite compelling thriller which gets creepier as
the time moves on. A young girl, perhaps early twenties, has broken her leg in a car crash and her only contact with the outside world from her
bedsit is via the computer and text messaging. Things start to get weird when she receives a flirty text from an unknown sender. Her boredom compels
her to keep in contact and this is a massive mistake. This is by far the strongest storyline in the series and the use of texting is weirdly wonderful
resulting in a really tense atmosphere.
Tit For Tat follows, this story is directed by Pawen Purikitpanya, and tells the story of a bullied schoolboy who turns to the dark side
for help with his mistreatment. Much like Happiness, this is an edgy segment and really keeps you in the edge of your seat. Where Tit For
Tat deviates from the first offering is the excessive use of gore and violence, which is given to us in an array of imaginative and gruesome
deaths. Of course, with a subject matter such as black magic some of the results are rather clichéd but an enjoyable half hour or so nonetheless.
The third section is another strong story but not quite as good as its predecessors. In The Middle is a ghost story within a ghost story
and uses the camping in a forest style to make for a quite sinister backdrop to the group's stories sort of coming to life. Then things get interesting.
Shutter director Banjong Pisanthanakun takes on this segment and on its own is a quite eerie piece but I was still reeling from Happiness
to get too disturbed by In The Middle.
To end Phobia, Parkpoom Wongpoom directs Last Fright which has the most uncouth premise (a flight attendant escorting the corpse of
the woman with whose husband she was having an affair with) but, regardless, the setting, the sounds and the tension all made for a fun vignette
which really did have the last fright in Phobia.
This is a very strong release that has horror, suspense and thrills running right through it. I should mention it is subtitled (obviously) but
somehow I find this adds to the intrigue forcing the viewer not to look away when the tension rises. The four parts have an air of Twilight
Zone or Hitchcock to them and is an excellent introduction to the genre of Thai horror and these moviemakers as well. 'Phobia 2' is on it way
as well, I will be watching out for it.