In Thai with English Subtitles
Genre: Horror/Thriller Director: Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, Paween Purijitpanya,
Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom Cast: Laila Boonyasak, Maneerat Kham-uan, Apinya
Sakuljaroensuk, Witawat Singlampong RunTime: 2 hrs Released By: GV Rating: NC-16 (Disturbing
Scenes) Official Website: www.4biamovie.com
Opening Day: 21 August 2008
4BIA is a portmanteau horror flick consisting of 4 horror
stories directed by 4 of Thailand’s most talented directors.
The first, directed by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon is titled “Happiness”
but don’t let the title of the movie mislead you. “Tit
For Tat” directed by Paween Purijitpanya (Body) gives
a mystically dark and gruesome twist to the meaning of “an
Eye for an Eye”. Then there is “In The Middle”
directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter and Alone) and
his teenage tale that totally walks off the Buddhist beaten
path and on to a horrifyingly humorous escapade that may leave
you laughing more than ‘shuttering’, excuse the
pun. Finally “Last Fright” directed by Parkpoom
Wongpoom (Shutter, Alone) is a psychological thriller that
reminds all of us of the old adage "hell hath no fury
like a woman scorned” except if you are the ‘other’
woman on the receiving end.
4Bia’s premise is this- four up and coming Thai directors,
each with their unique style, shoot their own short film revolving
around the theme of fear (or as the title implies “phobia”).
The idea may sound gimmicky, but the result is anything but.
Instead, 4Bia is an utterly delectable meal of horror, each
tightly shot film a morsel of delight in itself, but also
complimenting each other, so that the whole is truly more
than the sum of its parts, ultimately leaving its viewer hungry
First on the menu is Yongyoot Thongkongtoon’s “Happiness”,
who is probably better known for directing action comedies
such as The Iron Ladies and Metrosexual. Here director Thongkongtoon,
who also wrote the segment, begins the story rather innocuously
with a young woman, confined to her apartment with a broken
leg in a cast after surviving a horrific car crash. Alone
and lonely, she grabs the chance to make contact with a stranger
who starts texting her. Things get creepy when she sends him
her picture and he in turn sends her his.
Thongkongtoon’s greatest achievement in “Happiness”
is how he successfully builds up an atmosphere of uneasy and
dread without any dialogue. Instead of resorting to narration
or voiceover, we simply read the exchange of messages on screen
as they are received. All this adds up to a very satisfying
climax that manages to tie up the various elements in the
Next up is Paween Purikitpanya (Body #19)’s “Tit
For Tat”, which coming after “Happiness”
may be a rather jarring change. While “Happiness”
is content to take its time building up its story, “Tit
For Tat” thrusts its viewers straight into the story
of a kid who returns to exact vengeance using black magic
on a gang of bullies.
While this is no killjoy, “Tit For Tat” is probably
the weakest of the lot. Its Saw-like frenetic shots and schizophrenic
editing can get quite grating after a while, and it borders
on an overdose of CGI in its climax. Thankfully, though, it
proceeds at a gallop so it still makes for a gripping and
intense piece of work.
Coming after the occasionally nauseating “Tit For Tat”
is the refreshing crowd-pleaser “In The Middle”.
The story begins at night with four friends on a rafting trip
in a tent outdoors who, like most people would do to kill
time in the wild, start telling each other ghost stories.
Each of them ends up joking about what they would do if they
turned up dead, with one of them saying that he would haunt
the person sleeping in the middle, hence the title.
The next day, while out rafting, their boat capsizes. Only
three of them manage to make it out alive, and by nightfall,
they give up the search for their missing friend. But soon
after they try to fall asleep, their friend returns. However,
they are confronted with the nagging fear that their friend
may very well be dead.
Scripted and directed by one-half of the “Shutter”
duo Banjong Pisanthanakun, “In The Middle” delights
with its well delineated characters. It is not easy to create
characters that audiences can easily recognize within half
an hour, let alone four. But Pisanthankun has done just that,
giving each character a uniquely distinctive personality.
“In The Middle” also benefits tremendously from
Pisanthankun’s clever blend of humour and suspense.
He deftly alludes to clichés often used in modern day
horror movies, and even though audiences may think that they
are one step ahead of the story, he manages to deliver a satisfying
jolt at the end. My personal favourite, I would go so far
as to say that this segment alone is worth the price of admission.
The final course of the meal is Shutter’s other half,
Parkpoom Wongpoom’s “Last Fright”. A deliberate
pun on the word “flight”, it tells the story of
a flight attendant Pim who is summoned back to work on a royal
flight for a princess who is having marital difficulties.
Not to spoil the surprise, things get personal and testy between
them during the flight. The princess dies unexpectedly the
next day and Pim finds herself escorting the princess’
body back. Suffice to say that turbulence will not the only
thing that goes bump on the flight.
“Last Fright” is definitely not the best of the
four, but it maximises its unique setting on board a turbulence-rocked
empty plane. The claustrophobic inducing setting enhances
the sense of dread and helplessness that Pim faces and is
probably the best thing that this closing segment has going
for it. While the story may seem pedestrian, it still is a
solidly made piece of work.
As far as horror anthologies go, 4Bia is easily one of the
best of its kind. Perhaps also because of their brevity, each
of the four segments are always engaging and the sum of it
all is one of the most accomplished Thai horror movies of
(A four-course meal of fear prepared by four fine Thai up
and coming directors make for one of the most delicious Thai
horror movies of late)