The 2006 Thai horror film The Victim is the tale of two movies. Though I'm usually loathe to divulge a films twists, there is a big one, roughly halfway through the film, that so alters the landscape of the film there is no way I can review the movie without discussing it. So, consider yourself warned.
Ting is a novice actress, a nobody, still in school taking acting classes and learning her craft. By chance she lucks into her first job as a reenactor for the police department. As an investigative aide and public relations boost, the police regularly parade out a suspect to reenact their crimes at the scene in front of onlookers and the press. A funny montage of failed attempts displays why they like to use serious actors to fulfill the role of the victim. As if in a trance, Ting falls into her roles and proves to be so convincing observers are moved by her performance.
Pinchanart Sakakorn, the actress that plays Ting, is like a Thai version of HK starlet Shu Qi. I mean this not only because she bears a pretty faced, pouty-mouthed physical resemblance, but her acting is much the same, a strange balance of annoyingly cutesy and spazzy with moments of fine, convincing emoting.
Ting lands her highest profile case, one concerning a popular, murdered Mrs. Thailand, Meen, whose husband was fingered for the crime. But, it seems that Ting's connection to her dead subjects has become so strong that the disquieted damned are violently clamoring for her, including Meen, who insists that her killer has not been caught.
And, then it all changes.
Thats right, the film goes right off the tracks and reveals that what we've been watching was a movie within a movie. Ting is actually just a role for May, a well known actress, but she is still the center of supernatural shenanigans being pulled on this movie's set. At first the crew begins to see shadowy figures on footage they have shot, then the forces begin to kill off the crew, and May is increasingly disturbed, driven to nightmares, visions, and possession by the pissed off poltergeist.
The whole Asian supernatural horror genre has been saturated to the point of boredom. Its amazing to me that a new wave, a new style, hasn't popped up and replaced it. Still, Japan, HK, Thailand, Korea, etc continue to pump these suckers out. Really, it has become so tired and formulaic, it actually becomes interesting to find that all too rare spook horror vehicle that has a fresh take. For awhile anyway, that is precisely where The Victim succeeds before miserably falling into the same old haunted pitfalls.
The first half has a great premise, an interesting lead character, some great scare sequences, and while the dialogue can be a little rote, it has a very fresh approach. The last half has a hack premise, a completely undeveloped lead character, random, lame, barely connected to the narrative scare sequences, and falls prey to all the grumbles one has about formulaic horror. I seriously have no idea what happened. It really is like two different films were made, one relatively inventive, engaging, and smooth in its execution, the other absolutely clunky and tired. The horror device in the first half is method acting opening the door to possession form the beyond. Cool. I don't think anyone has tried that before. In the second half, guess what is the reasoning for all the scares? A haunted headdress. *Yawn.* That should tell you all you need to know.
The DVD: Tartan.
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. Overall the film is rendered pretty well. Clean print. Colors are appropriately striking and flesh tones seem natural and well-balanced. Contrast is generally deep and muddy and murky only when intended. Grain levels are a bit high. The biggest transfer imperfection are some slightly high noise levels that will hurt the overall definitions on larger displays.
Sound: DTS, 5.1, 2.0 tracks, Thai language with optional English or Spanish subtitles. Audio quality is solid with all the appropriate surround use of bumps thuds and atmospheric horror wallops. Though, I'm still confused why the film makers chose the heavy use of dog howling in the background? Subtitles were a bit of a letdown with frequent grammatical errors.
Extras: Making 0f Featurette (21:42). This doc comes form a tv special. While it is a decent promo, simplistic walkthrough of the making of the film, the quality, both image and audiowise, is poor. -- Original Trailer + TV Spots.
Conclusion: Loved the first half. Hated the second. The Victim is a great example of how to do supernatural horror right and how to do supernatural horror wrong. Disappointing letdown of a film and a middling but acceptable DVD presentation make this one a rental for all you Asian horror fans.