Tuesday, January 18, 2022

In short: Bangkok Dark Tales (2019)

This is yet another Thai horror anthology film. As is typically the case with these films, we get three half hour tales directed by different directors, in this case, Thanvimol Onpapliw, Alwa Ritsila and Anusorn Soisa-Ngim (who is also listed as “head writer”). Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to find out who directed which segment.

The first tale concerns a young woman with somewhat problematic morals and a really rude streak spending New Year’s Eve in her office with two interns and a security guard (who is also a secret stalker, apparently) to fix up some financial data left in disarray after the death of her predecessor. If she manages the finish the job until January, 2nd, she’ll get promoted, if not, fired. That’s not going to be the main problem of her night, for she finds herself beleaguered by visions of a ghost version of her predecessor in a cheap Santa suit, as well as an actual masked maniac with an axe, also dressed in said cheap Santa outfit. It’s all good, cheap fun. The direction aims for a mix of very traditional suspense and a number of increasingly ridiculous twists, and mostly hits its mark well in both regards, never making our heroine quite nasty enough for the audience to lose interest in her fate.

Segment number two is about what happens to a couple that walks into the unused, and very, very haunted, fifth theatre of a cinema that once was a Hindu temple. After some “funny” business, the segment gets into a nice groove of red lights, creepy grinning ghost people, and disturbing things happening on a cinema screen the characters have turned their backs to. Things take on exactly the kind of nightmare logic I like best in my horror, and really never lose this mood until the end of the story, turning this into my favourite segment of the film at hand.

Segment number three, alas, is the dud all anthologies must by universal law contain. It’s also a waste of a bunch of creepily designed ghosts on the supposedly comical tale of two students/prostitutes/would-be net idols, spending a month in a house in Bangkok that turns out to be haunted by the victims of a family tragedy. The problem here is how unfunny the jokes are – at least if you don’t speak the Thai language and can only go by subtitles and physical acting – and how little the comedy and the ghosts really seem to connect.

Still, two good segments out of three aren’t bad at all, so this is easily enough recommended for a bit of light horrific fun.

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