Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In short: 4bia (2008)

consists of four, not meaningfully interconnected stories.

"Happiness" by Youngyooth Thongkonthun depicts the misadventures of a young woman sitting lonely at home with a broken leg. A chance text message by a seemingly nice stranger raises her hopes of an end to her loneliness, but after a while the young man's texting takes on a rather disquieting note. Is it possible that she is talking to a ghost?

"Tit for Tat" by Paween Purikitpanya sees a gang of weed-smoking hoodlums taken directly from Reefer Madness cursed by one of their victims and killed in Final Destination light-like accidents.

"In the Middle" by Shutter & Alone directors Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun follows a quartet of young men with a tendency to wink-wink, nudge-nudge towards Shutter out on a rafting tour in the jungle. Thanks to the added IQs of everyone involved still staying in the double-digits area, one of them drowns, only to come back the following night to haunt his friends. Or is it all a little more complicated?

"Last Fright" - as far as I can make out directed by Wongpoom alone - portraits the fun a flight attendant gets into when she has to accompany the transport of the body of a foreign royal for whose death she is at least partially responsible and whose husband is her lover. The dead person is not amused.

4bia keeps strictly to the idea of the horror movie as a carnival spookshow, its episodes inspired by urban legends and decidedly lacking in depth or subtext. Only wanting your audience to have fun isn't one of the cardinal sins of film making, of course, as long as you are able to actually make your film entertaining.

Apart from "Tit for Tat", the anthology's stories deliver the entertainment they are promising through concentrated simplicity and directness. The segments are expertly kept at an ideal length to not overstay their welcome.

Unfortunately, Purikitpanya's episode drags the experience down a little through the hallmarks of everything that is annoying in modern horror Asian or American - irritating jump cuts, a camera operator with the shakes and a piss-based colour scheme - but that's why DVDs have chapters, I suppose.

Three good segments out of four is a good enough quota for an anthology movie in any case and while 4bia is not a masterpiece, I still had enough fun watching it.


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