Sunday, February 24, 2013

Horror Film Review

The Screen at Kamchanod (2007):  It's been a while since I've had the ever-lovin' crap scared out of me, and it shouldn't come as a galloping shock that the film responsible comes from our friends in Thailand.  To say those folks know how to make ghost movies is like saying AMC knows how to make TV shows about zombies.  That is to say, they're pretty damn good at it.

Right.  This summary isn't going to be anything remotely resembling easy.  A medical doctor is obsessed with the paranormal, especially a strange story about an incident that occurred 20 years ago when a film was shown in a forest clearing to no audience...sort of.  Supposedly, ghosts showed up then vanished, and then the projectionists went a bit daffy (one's catatonic and refuses to let go of some kind of amulet).  So now, the doctor wants to recreate the scene in hopes of validating his esoteric research.  He finally finds the copy of the film and pre-screens it in an abandoned movie theater.  Joining him are a slacker ne'er-do-well hired for odd jobs, two fellow researchers, and his oddly sullen girlfriend.  Minutes into the screening, bunches of ghosts pop up and start terrorizing the doc's little group.  Later and on their own, each continues to be assailed by spirits that seem to want nothing more than to frighten them if not to death, then at least to the point of insanity.  I should mention that during all of this, there's a subtext woven into the story involving the girlfriend, who we learn is a victim of the doctor's physical abuse, and the slacker, who is in love with her.  Don't roll your eyes just yet.  Nothing is as it seems and this "romantic triangle" is integral to the overall story.  Eventually, the doc sets up the film to be shown in the forest again and stands on the sidelines with a reporter to see what happens.  Suffice it to say that the outcome of his little experiment isn't what he had in mind.  Nope.  Not even a tiny bit.

There is so much going on in this film, so many interconnected twists and turns that I couldn't possibly begin to explain it all.  And truth be told, I shouldn't.  It would take the fun out of it.  You know, it's one of those deals like in The Usual Suspects when you begin to realize who Kevin Spacey really is and what's really is going on.  OK...maybe not quite to that extent, but pretty damn close.  I thought I had seen enough horror films to be able to predict who's going to do what, who's going to die, and how the story will end.  Apparently not.  Which, of course, is groovy.  I'm trying very hard to think of a complaint right now...  No, not the subtitles.  Deal with it.  I guess if I had to bitch about something, it would be about what it's always about, namely a lack of explanation regarding the 'why.'  Why are the spirits so active and pissed off?  What's up with that clearing and why is its close proximity to a Buddhist temple relevant?  And who the hell was that monk?  Anyway, this is a flavor of complaint I can live with. 

Breakdown

Acting:  They all do a decent enough job.  Nobody's terrible.
Story:  It's a new one on me.  And in this case, new is good.
Direction:  It may seem sketchy at first, but there's a reason for everything.  Stick with it. 
Production Values:  The film has a darkish, rough look that serves the story well.  Atmosphere, is what they call it.  The budget couldn't have been terribly high, and yet you won't care. 
Gore/FX:  There's a little blood but nothing super gross.  What CGI there is is well done.  The ghost make-up is effective.
Scares:  Seriously, I lost count.  There are that many.  Three in particular will more likely than not prompt a change of knickers. 
Ending:  It's revealed what's really been going on with these characters (you will be surprised) and also where they end up (you'll be even more surprised).  We have a rare thing here...a clever wrap up to a consistently scary movie. 
Verdict:  Should you see The Screen at Kamchanod?  Unless you're interested in a smart story that's deftly filmed that will also scare you witless, then no, probably not. 

Rating:  4 out of 5

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