Film #36: 4BIA aka PHOBIA aka SEE PRANG / 4BIA2 aka PHOBIA 2 aka HA PHRAENG
4Bia (aka See Prang)
3 out of 5 stars
This anthology film features five stories directed by Thai filmmakers Banjong Pisanthanakin (SHUTTER), Paween Purikitpanya (BODY), Yongvoot Thongkongtoom (BEST OF TIMES), Parkboom Wong boom (SHUTTER). Each short is about 30 minutes or so in length and bring - as is usual with anthology films - varied results. Some stories are naturally better than others and all of them use Thai folklore and superstition as their cornerstone, but… that said, there are a few effective scares to be had along the way. The filmmakers all are a little too reliant on CG, but these are not exactly huge budget films and they do the best with what they have. Acting is ok and again… scripts are varied, but damn is these aren’t nice looking films. Each director brings their own visual flair to their segments and as I said, there are some cool moments. One need not be too terribly familiar with the Thai culture to understand things, but it helps. Also, as a purely anthropological piece, it’s always interesting to see how different cultures around the world handle the horror genre. A decent anthology with a few good scares.
4Bia2 (aka Phobia 2 Ha Phraeng)
3 out of 5 stars
This sequel to 4BIA consists of more spoooky stories directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun (SHUTTER), Paween Purikitpanya(BODY), Songyos Sugmakanan (the highly underrated DORM), Parkpoom Wongpoom (SHUTTER), Visute Poolvoralaks (producer SHUTTER, ALONE, NANG NAK) with slightly better results. SLIGHTLY… The production values have been increased and a few of the stories are above par (the zombie story, the comedic end), but this is pretty much what it is - a horror anthology with a Thai twist. While the film is better than its predecessor, it still suffers from what most anthologies suffer from (uneven pacing, one-dimensional characters who are given only the slightest of motivations, etc). Still, the film does have its moments and nobody does ghosts as good as the Thai. Worth checking out if you dig things like CREEPSHOW or TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE (both PHOBIA films are better than ANYTHING done in DARKSIDE) or if you’re one of those interested in horror from different countries.