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  Publicity Stills of "Art of the Devil 2"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: The Ronin Team (Kongkiat Khomsiri, Isara Nadee, Seree Pongpinit, Pasith Buranajan, Putiping Saisikaew, Art Thamtrakul, Yosapong Polsap)
Starring: Napakpapar ‘Mamee’ Nakprasit, Namo Tongkamnerd, Hataiwan Ngamsukonpusit, Akarin Siwanponpitak, Korakot Woramusic, Chanida Suriyakampol
RunTime: -
Released By: Shaw & Allstar
Rating: R21 (Gore and Disturbing Content)

Opening Day: 31 August 2006

Synopsis :

Six childhood friends, Ta, Por, Kim, Tae, Nuch and Ko, return to their home village for a short vacation. There, they meet Ms Panor, their elementary school teacher and Ta’s estranged stepmother. Panor, an object of desire of many young men, is the catalyst of the ensuing misadventure that takes place one fateful night, the night that forces each of the six friends to reveal their dark secrets of the past.

Competing to win her heart, several men in the village resort to black magic and cast a love spell on Panor. The effect of the repeated exposure to such a powerful spell has driven Panor to lose her sanity, more and more, she’s drifting off into her hallucination. Panor tries to purge herself off the dark magic and seeks help from the Indian witch doctor, who prescribes her a ritual of eating flesh of those who’ve cast the spell on her. But something went wrong during the process, and Panor has turned into a powerful voodoo witch herself. On that dark night, Panor takes her six students on a trip into the underworld where she’ll take her revenge on the men who’ve wronged her.

Movie Review:

Art of the Devil makes its intentions clear to shock from the beginning as we watch a guy in a fishing boat reel in his catch, and then somehow impales his finger on his fish-hooks and starts having convulsions. Next, we see him with Madam Sulee who only needs one look at the sores on his torso to deduce that he’s the victim of a Cambodian curse – unfortunate for his sake because we can only sit back and watch as fish-hooks start ripping out his stomach, toes and eyes until he collapses screaming…

Could a small production from Thailand really avoid the formulaic spooky ghosts and comedy sidekicks that normally dominate their domestic releases and deliver something all the more brutal? With Western horror films entering a harder, grittier phase, personified by the ‘gore-nography’ of Eli Roth’s Hostel and Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes remake, perhaps Asia needs to walk a similar path of a lively picture with enough gore to give the film every chance of being a breakout hit and finding a global audience.

With the story that hands out about six childhood friends, returning to their home village for a short vacation leading to a misadventure that takes place one fateful night, that forces each of the six friends to reveal their dark secrets of the past, it pretty much sums up a set-lunch of a slasher flick. It’s hardly the most original of plots but it’s a well-worn formula that works effectively enough. If you can swim through the ponderous flashbacks that litter the first half of the film then your patience is duly rewarded in the second half when the vicious horror that marked the opening scenes finally returns. Panor, the victim of assault turn psycho is a one cold-hearted witch and her methodology, using her own set of rituals and black magic is not for the faint of heart. Without giving too much away let’s just wet your appetite with the mention of a little flesh eating, eye gouging, tooth pulling, and all that before she even reaches for her trusty blowtorch…

The film’s influences are there on screen for all to see, most obviously Takashi Miike’s Audition, with Asami’s calm approach to torture clearly shaping the character of Panor. Yet the film still retains its own local identity, with its strong Buddhist theme - the kids choose to turn to prayer rather than flee when in. Of course there’s a message within the film, that life is all about choices and your past defines who you are, and as the shaman sagely warns, “It’s like riding a tiger – it can bite back at any moment.”

It’s not a flawless movie though, and the dialogue – or at least the English subtitling – and storyline is hardly dynamic and often riddled with clichés. In the end, even though the main reason Art of the Devil 2 will be remembered is for its explicit imagery and in that regard, the film certainly doesn’t disappoint. After so many Asian ghost stories it’s refreshing to see a slightly different approach to the genre that quite literally gets under your skin.

Movie Rating:

(A necessary viewing for any self-respecting Asian horror gore-devotee)

Review by Lokman B S


. Art of the Devil 3 (2008)

. The House (2007)

. Body #19 (2007)

. The Screen At Kamchanod (2007)

. Alone (2007)

. The Unseeable DVD (2007)

. Colic (2006)

. Ghost Game (2006)

. Art of the Devil 2 (2006)

. Art of the Devil (2004)

. Shutter (2004)


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