Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ghost Game

My good friend Nick was here for a weekend visit and I met up with him. Kinda wrong time for a visit due to the haze. He stayed with Liew who was unfortunately sick at the same time - so, what could have been a great gathering did not turn out that great with his absence.
Anyway, it is not that bad either - Nick, as usual was fun :)
We watched a movie and we were actually deciding between Rob-B-Hood and a horror movie. I saw there were 2 more screenings of the Thai horror movie, Ghost Game which I originally wanted to watch when I was in Genting Highlands with my dear friend :)
Anyway, the latter became our option due to the time as we would have to wait an hour later for the Rob-B-Hood screen time. Since Nick loves horror movies as well, we went for it after a quick lunch.
Understandably, we were seated in a smaller cinema since this movie is no longer on the demand movie list. Within minutes, the light dimmed and we were treated to the opening of the movie which started off with the newspapers clippings and readings on the massacre killing by the commando on this specific date; May 9th. (can't remember the name of the commander)
Then they showed a footage of a video recording of 3 friends who went to the war musuem or rather the site of the killings and was then found mysteriously dead under extreme shock situations.
Subsequently the scene cleverly moves to a Buddhist monk and a bunch of youngsters watching the video on the screen. It was actually a briefing session to these youngsters who were the 11 contestants bound for a reality game show which challenges them to spend the night on the site where the massacre took place and at the same time, incur the wrath of the spirits and to endure the fear whereby the person who can withstand the fear can walk away with the grand prize which is the highest amount ever given in a show; a whopping amount of 5 million Thai Baht. Among the 11 contestants will be 2 winners from the previous season (champion and the runner-up); Dao(Supatsiri Patomnupong) and Yuth(Pacharapon Jantieng).
The other contestants include a serious bespectacled pharmacist, Kate; Kwan, a chubby and arrogant university student; Jay, a photographer; Ant, a sassy model; Yot, whose dad is a medium; sisters Kung and Kang; Kemtid, a rich kid and a bookworm; and Mick an aspiring young actor. As in Survivor and other competitive reality game shows/series, these bunch must compete and outlaw each other in their attempt to emerge as the ultimate champion. Of course, in the process, there is always the suspicion and war-mode between these folks as they try to beat each other to the top and inevitably,the main prejudice was between the new contestants versus the previous champs which will be related later in this review.
They were then shipped; yeah, they had to travelled into this lush tropical forest by river to reach this deserted area (obviously no one would go to this place for vacation...duuuhhhh.....and it was even more isolated after the mysterious deaths of those 3 people)
They reached the war relic site soon after and slowly alighted the plank platform leading to the place; with the serene sounds of the nature and the ambient environment accompanying them as they head into the eerie place.
They were welcomed by the production crew ( cast for the game show) lined up on both sides and also by a medium (bomoh of some sort) standing in the middle. Behind him was the main entrance door into the massacre site. They were instructed to begin with a simple worshipping and cleansing session of the site for the purpose of the game. At this point, the medium was actually praying or rather, muttering in Thai and then used the blood from the wrung chicken to bless the skulls which mark the main entrance when he suddenly went berserk; sort of in possession mode and rushed towards them. Most of them were surprised as the crew mentioned it was not scripted but the contestants remained skeptical and tried to ward him off.
Screaming and pleading in Thai, the medium uttered these few words as he was led away by the crew, "Leave this place immediately, this place is cursed!!"
Ignoring what has just happened, the program manager (cannot remember his name either), spoke with a subtle tone to draw the attention from the contestants. They were supposed to remove any amulets they brought and also to be dressed in the outfits which were worn by the tormented/dead victims (sort of prisoner type of clothes) and their accommodation will be within the living quarters or rather the prison cells of each of the victim whereby each room had the history of killed/tortured tenant. Anyway, the whole place basically is full of all the dead since no one was spared during the massacre killing by the commander.
Ending his speech, he retreated out the door and Kwan, the chubby girl actually was horrified that they will be left on their own; under the close scrutiny of the CCTV placed in the site for the crew to govern them.
All of them put on a brave front and retreated silently to their assigned chamber respectively. It looked rather spooky to me and I'd NOT spend my night in such a place; no matter how much I am to be paid...
There were an occasional creaking here and there as they each tried to settle to sleep.
The scene focused on Dao who was fiddling with her ring pendant on the necklace which she dropped and rolled under the bed. The suspense was high there as she reached out her hand to the bottom of the bed to grab hold of the ring. As she withdrew her hand, the audience were treated to a scare when a hand grabbed up from the bottom of the floor and gave her hand a miss. However, poor Dao was not spared either as she soon saw the ghostly figure of a lady who tried to grab her and slept next to her. She screamed in terror and got everyone running to check out on her. The crew, who were looking at her through the CCTV could not see a thing.
Dao decided not to arouse/instill the fear among the others and bravely shook her head when she was asked.
Then there was Jay, who was rather skeptical and kept checking on the site to find any hidden props or settings which could be placed by the production crew to spook the contestants. However, Yuth actually saw the ghostly figure behind Jay when she checked on Dao. Anyway, Jay didn't have to wait long as she was the next to be spooked out of her wits when she went back to her room and then found this ghost looking at her and trying to grab her. She screamed and was traumatized by the event; thus making her the first to be removed from the competition.

The ghost that was trailing Dao everywhere...

The group then started to grow suspicious of Dao and thought it was her and Yuth (both old champs from the last season) trying to cook up a conspiracy to get them out of the game. Kate and Kwan started the cold war and gathered the others against Dao.
Moving on with the story, the activities commenced on the second night.....a brief summary, most of the games were pretty absurd and definitely invoking the spirits; man, they even had a prayer to challenge the spirit and to ward off God's presence...imagine that, some innovation to the normal prayers...sighhhhhh...
The games were as follows (not in any particular order):
1. Re-enacting how the people died/tortured - Ant, Yot, Kang (or was it Kung) was outcasted in this round as they were traumatized by the actual appearances which tried to kill or overpower them.
Due to one of the sisters' dismissal, the other sister wanted to leave but was prevented and was supported to stay on the show. The sister who was disqualified was due to her asthma background which was found by the crew immediately as she struggled with fear when she was tied facing down to those olden water container.
2. Challenging the areas marked with the red skulls (prohibited areas) - by entering them provocatively even during a rainy night
This is where Dao found out about the ghost who was actually Pai Lin who was killed by the commander and warned everyone of the madness.
3. Invoking the commander's chamber and the infamous/notorious torture chamber
The contestants finally came to terms as they realized that this game was leading them to fatality since the beginning as they found the diary of the commander who was born on May 9th and also chose the same day to commit the mass murder of all his subordinates(soldiers) and his captives and then dying on the same day himself. As they stared at the calendar flipping, they realized that they only had minutes to the cursed date itself. Dao, Kemtid and Yot tried to escape from the torture chamber. At the same time, the sisters also left, after a dispute with the 2 stubborn ladies and the rather arrogant Kwan who refused to leave and still thinks it is a plot to disqualify them from the competition.
They ran for their lives and realized that they were too late as the commander intended to kill anyone who walked into his grounds and they have done that right from the beginning.
Each of them died a horrifying death or watched the other die; Ant and Jay ran off to the boat but Ant had to flee back to the camp to retrieve the keys. However, none were spared as even the production crew were killed.
Seemingly Dao escaped and Kemtid was left behind, pleading for Dao to bring him along but she refused. When finally the boat turned back, we were treated to face reality that everyone died....
They ended with the rolling of the introduction of the contestants in the contest as some sort of prologue to the reality series and their expectations to win the prize....

Actually, I kinda expected this movie to be another cheesy type of ouija or some silly type of game the youngsters play and then accidentally/intentionally invoked spirits to hang around them. I was also thinking they may pdabble around with black magic and probably provide us with some gory scenes.
However, I find this movie kinda intriguing....fresh idea and twist to modern horror stories which centralize on the recent fame of reality series. In fact, I think it is pretty interesting as well.
Not bad and I just recently found out that the cast (the 11 contestants) were actually first timers; being recruited from the Thai reality series; UBC Academy Fantasia and so this is also their debut/pilot movie to mark their presence in the entertainment industry. Thus, the acting skills can be forgiven but I should say that Dao, Yot and Kemtid gave a pretty solid performance with their natural expressions. Jay and Kwan would have overdone themselves.
At the same time, I heard that this movie incurred the wrath of their neighbour, Cambodia who were angered that they were actually depicting the story of the Khmer Rouge mass killings back then in Phnom Penh and the place was actually modeled after the actual site of the Toul Sleng, nicknamed as S21 and in the movie, I think they also called it S22 or Case 17 - talk about mock similarity.
In fact, the Cambodian Culture Minisry even mentioned that the production of this movie approached him earlier to seek permisison to film on the actual location itself but to no avail as they regarded the request as a disrespect to the innocent victims which included thousands of people; women and children alike who died during that time. It was said that the production took it back to Thailand and established a mock model of the site for the movie and established it down to every single detail. In fact, even the skulls and the writings on the walls were taken from the actual place itself.
Cambodians were angered as they treated the Thai movie as a huge sign of disrespect to their innocent victims. The production held a press conference and made a public apology to the Cambodian government who refused to dismiss the case and will take every action to ensure that the movie is banned from the country.
(I will do a bit more research and share on the Khmer Rouge story - I believe it is a sad story as there is even a memorial for visitors to go to and each of them were moved to tears when they depart from that place - according to sources from the Internet).

Not too bad a movie but perhaps the Thais should have been more sensitive to their neighbours' history. However, as in other horror movies, I do have my "I don't get it factors":
1. Why is that people never retreat when they sense something weird? I mean even for normal human beings, I am sure we will not explore further when it is dark and we are unsure of the forward direction
2. If you noticed, there's actually more female contestants compared to male...hahaha

There are also some interesting facts about this movie. It was said to have incurred the actual spirits as the boat which the crew travelled in capsized and overturned, leaving a couple of them injured. Also, the scene where the medium was conducting the exorcism process was actually real and it was not in the script.
One of the actresses also experienced something in her hotel room when her TV suddenly blasted.
The cast from the Thai Academy Fantasia replica show.
Eeeee.....spooky huh? If it was me, I'd never go for it no matter how attractive the prize is.
Quote from Nick, "Some things are better left unexplored"....

God bless...Amen...

1 comment:

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