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BODY #19 (Thailand)

  Publicity Stills of "Body #19"
(Courtesy from GV)

In Thai with English subtitles
Director: Paween Purikitpanya
Cast: Arak Amornsupasiri, Ornjira Lamwilai, Kritteera Inpornwijit
RunTime: 2 hrs 5 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.bodythemovie.com/

Opening Day: 10 January 2008


Chon, a med student, starts seeing a psychotherapist after he dreams about a woman who he had only met once in a restaurant.

In his dreams, a mysterious man murders her, slices her body into pieces, and flushes them down a toilet one by one. The murderous dreams haunt him into his waking memory, and eventually he feels as if his own body is being dissected and carved up by the surgical knife. Slowly, the terrifying images take control of him. He comes to believe that the dead woman is sending him messages through these nightmares. But these are not messages for him, they are meant for her murderer. They speak of revenge, and say: “I am still here.”

Movie Review:

Thai directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom had brought us some truly well made horror flicks with their movies Shutter and Alone, which was screened earlier this year, so much so that the billboard had to tout Body #19 coming from the same studio (but of course helmed by someone else - Paween Purikitpanya), just so that we know and expect some level of quality that comes with such an association. And for the most parts, Body #19 had almost everything that worked in its favour, with carefully designed set pieces to try its hand at jolting you at your seat, though a major minus is its run time of slightly over 2 hours.

While a longer duration might provide an avenue for a more detailed storyline, what resulted was actually a number of unnecessary scenes, which could have been left at the editing room floor, or trimmed for pacing. While it is almost the norm for horror stories, or at least the contemporary Asian ones, to piece together the back-stories of the characters, or explain why the restless souls had to come back for revenge / unfinished business, they do so in relatively to the point fashion. In Body #19 however, it meanders quite a bit, even at the expense of telling you why you should dislike a character, and attempted to inject some intellectual analysis into psychosis, only to have it junked and forgotten midway because it probably became too cumbersome.

Technical wise, you cannot fault the sound design which was impeccable, and the attention to detail in creating the ghoul, which are key elements in sustaining audience interest even when the story seemed to be stuck at nowhere. Here's where Body #19 excels, in creating a creature so revolting that you just want to duck under the sheets, cover your eyes and wish it goes away. If I may say so, it's one of the more beautifuly intricate ghouls to have graced the screens, and one which utilizes almost every trick in the book to dispatch its victims. You might have seen some of these methods before in other horror movies, but with the quality of the CG effects, it managed to get away with it. Of notable mention too is the makeup department in fleshing out (pardon the pun) the necessary to achieve the desired macabre and spooky effects.

Somehow though, the filmmakers and cinematographer found a profound lingering desire to include a crane shot into almost every scene or change in setting, or decide to have a shot from beneath, so you have the actors either looking up, looking down, or we're looking at the top of their heads. I found this to be distracting as it doesn't further the plot in any way, and could have been done away with to trim the run time. We don't really need another of such over the top tracking shots, just because it may look cool and sophisticated.

A good story is essential so as not to waste the efforts of the technical team, but here's where Body #19 fell a bit short. It is always difficult to have a horror film wow your socks off with new or innovative story lines, and Body #19 might seem to have dwelled too much in setting up its conspiracy theories which doesn't leave much room to come to the right conclusion midway into the movie. It found some earnest need to show and tell back-stories even when it doesn't further the plot, and to satisfy those in the audience with bloodlust, the killings here take their own sweet time, with the hunter very much toying with its prey, again just to ramp up the unnecessary suspense, but allowed an avenue to showcase some nifty CG work.

In setting up the series of events, the opening had a myriad of characters thrown into six degrees of separation, and took its time to unravel the relationships amongst them. The synopsis above is all you need to know should you require a reference of sorts when watching the movie, and it doesn't take too long to arrive at the first "boo!" point, whose necessity is still debatable, as it probably serves as a rehearsal for more to come. But what I found to be unsettling, is the very detailed and repeated chop-slash-chop sequence in body dismembering. Now that will require some stomach to endure.

Movie Rating:

(Forgettable, cliche story saved by attention to scary, gory details)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Alone (2007)

. The Unseeable DVD (2007)

. Colic (2006)

. Shutter (2004)

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