Director: Poj Anon
Cast: Kunatip Pinpradub, Puvadol Vechwongsah, Kittipat Samarntragulchai, Worachai Sirikongsuwan, Rittichai Tasarika, Brian Garton, Suppakij Amornthitipong, Witawas Tawkumleu, Pitipon Porntresat, Pattaravarin Timgul, Nutcha Rujinanon
RunTime: 1 hr 44 mins
Rating: PG13 (Horror)
Released By: Encore Films and Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 27 February 2014
Synopsis: : A high school gang led by the gang leader, Kunatip Pinpradub (Nick), and gang members-‐ Puvadol Vechwongsah (James), Worachai Sirikongsuwan (Tape), Suppakij Amornthitipong (Benz), Kittipat SamarnTagulchai (Bill), Brian Garton (Brian) and Sirapob Manitikun (Net)-‐ love to seek and challenge ghosts at abandoned buildings. During school break, there is a rule that students must leave their school dormitories to return home. However, this gang wanted to challenge themselves to some wicked fun. They choose to visit an abandoned school which held a history of a student’s tragic suicide. After the suicide, the building was sealed and became restricted to all students. Being young and reckless, the students wildly challenge the dead-‐ with their foul mouths and naivety. The incident brings them through a series of comic moments and a journey to the realization of truth.
We knew after the runaway success of ‘Pee Mak’ that it would not take long for similar horror comedies to emerge; true enough, one of the first out of the gate just three or four months later is Poj Arnon’s ‘Make Me Shudder’. Built around the exploits of a gang of high school students masquerading as ‘ghostbusters’, it tries valiantly to bring on both the scares as well as the guffaws - though, as you’ve probably already guessed, it turns out neither as scary nor as funny as one might have hoped.
For starters, the setup is as flimsy as it gets. Some rumour about a Grade 12 student who killed himself by jumping off the roof of the building leads a plucky high school student named Nick to round up a posse of his friends and his friends’ friends one night to debunk the myth. The prelude established Nick as a firm non-believer in ghosts, who would regularly organise visits to purportedly haunted places in order to scare the ‘heebeegeebees’ out of them with his elaborate pranks and prove that indeed there is nothing to be afraid of.
As narrative convention would have it, we know that Nick’s visit to the sealed off section of his school compound will ultimately bring him face to face with the said ghost and teach him and his friends a lesson that they will not forget. At least Arnon doesn’t pretend that there is plot when there is not; indeed, thankfully, he cuts to the chase just 15 minutes into the movie, with our resident ghost making its first appearance to everyone in the group, banishing any doubt once and for all in their minds that the legend was nothing more than hearsay.
What follows however turns out pretty boring in its repetition. Yes, for the next 45 minutes, all we see are the boys getting split up, stalked by the ghost with the mutilated head, chased up and down staircases, skulking across gated-off hallways, finding excuses for why the other should take the lead or make the sacrifice, and basically screaming their heads off ad infinitum. What makes matters worse is that the boys are barely distinguishable from each other except by name and appearance (e.g. the bespectacled one, the one with the pull-on fringe) no thanks to the fact that each is as timid as the other, so you’ll hardly sympathise with any of them if at all.
Things pick up slightly only after the first hour, when Arnon builds on the story of a fierce headmistress named Pannee (played by ‘May’ Pathawarin Timkul) who leads one half of the boys into a classroom marked ‘6/5’ (hence the titular reference in Thai). Not to give anything away, but the addition of this supporting character gives an interesting twist to the proceedings, in particular in casting a brand new perspective on the ghost named Mark whom we only learn the name of at this point. It’s not enough to make up for the monotony of the earlier hour, but at least it doesn’t leave you even more dissatisfied.
We’re not quite sure how this became Thailand’s ‘all-time No. 1 3D horror blockbuster’, since really it is but a much poorer cousin of ‘Pee Mak’ in the vein of horror-comedies. While there are specific scenes designed for stereoscopy, these never fail to come off gimmicky and hardly worth the extra dollar for the additional dimension. It won’t make you shudder for sure, but if you’re in dire need of a laugh, then you just might find something in this middling entry; otherwise, keep your distance is what we’d advise.
(This is no 'Pee Mak' that's for sure - despite an irreverent tone, ''Make Me Shudder' will likely make you yawn with its flimsy plot, nonexistent characterisation and overall repetitiveness)
Review by Gabriel Chong