Reviews

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alone

Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Writers: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Producer: Mingmonkul Sonakul
Starring: Masha Vadhanapanich, Witthaya Wasukraipaisam
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 92 min
Country of Origin: Thailand
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
at Toronto After Dark Festival

      From the latest crop of Asian horror comes one of the finest I've seen in recent memory. With the latest trend of American remakes of some of these great stories and ideas also come some major disappointments, hence putting me off of the Asian horror genre for the last couple of years. I'm happy to report that I'm back on track after this sophmore effort from writers/directors, Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom. If you've never seen their debut film, Shutter, I can assure you that tracking that film down will be worth your while as well.

      Recent crap horror out of The States has focussed mainly on blood and gore, while neglecting the true nature of horror: psychological scares and a taut storyline. Alone delivers these two strengths in spades. According to director Pisanthanakun himself, the film was in production for over two years and when conceived was not even thought of to be horror. The directing duo just wanted to make sure their second effort was better than their first and had a good story. Success!

      Alone tells the story of Pim, a young Thai woman who has moved with her husband to Korea to start a new life after being surgically separated from her conjoined twin Ploy. After a long and tumultuous surgery in their teenage years, Pim survived, but Ploy did not. Wracked with guilt, Pim's tarot reading at a party reveals something will return to her that was once lost. Soon after, Pim and husband Wee return to Thailand to care for her ailing mother; at which time, strange, psychological visions start driving Pim mad and convincing her that her departed sister has returned from the dead to wreak havoc.

      The film has plenty of jump scares to keep the audience on its toes. While these are generally cop outs in my opinion, they work rather well in the beginning of the film to set up a tension. As I began to believe that this would be the sole scare tactic in Alone and therfore let me down. Fortunately, this was not to be. As the plot develops, legitamately creepy imagery, sound cues and general atmospheric scariness abounds to keep those little hairs on the back of your neck straining for the ceiling.

      As the film nears its climax, admittedly the scares did start to wear off and didn't work as well as they had in the beginning. However, the plus side to this is that at this point, the storyline has really taken off and we're now invested in the characters and actually care about what turn of events might happen next. The entire experience is the perfect blend of scares, drama and well thought out plot line. Are there some holes here and there? Sure, but nothing to get in a twist about and certainly nothing that detracts from the experience.

      Pim is played by Thai, pop-music star, Marsha Wattanapanich. When the inevitable American remake of Alone hits pre-production, it will be a daunting task to replace Wattanapanich in the role of Pim. Her prowess and charisma on screen is, although certainly not Oscar worthy, very convincing and demanding as she is on screen in roughly 95% of the running time. Her ability to convey fear, anger and sadness is something few actresses can pull off convincingly today and Wattanapanich seems to be able to give it to us with relative ease. Huge kudos are in order on this point.

      The scares will keep coming out of Alone at high rates and each time in unique styles and circumstances. No cliched, long-haired, zombie-esque chicks here; just quality frights by creative film makers and obvious masters of the genre. Possibly the best film at the recent Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Alone is an obvious crowd pleaser. It's been winning several awards on the fetival circuit and for good reason. Alone is a film not to be missed by fans (and non-fans) of the horror, or just plain scary, genre.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site






andrew@moviepatron.com


Posted by Andrew James in
Review

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