It’s been a while since my last entry. Rest assured; the atrocities that so often make mince meat out of the victims of horror films have not befallen me. Or have I risen from the dead?
Anyway… today is a bit of a first for me – a first worth noting as this will be the first time I have laid eyes on a Thai horror film, let alone reviewed it. I have to commend the Thais – they know a thing or two about the showmanship of the genre, so my experience, whilst completely new, was comfortably riveting.
The House is a domicile where unspeakable evil manifests… So that’s why we’re going to talk about it.
Inspired by a true story, The House tells the tale of rookie reporter, Chalinee, who is determined to investigate the motives behind three deaths that took place in ‘the house’. As she comes closer to the truth, she finds that the story is more mysterious than first seemed and that the answers she will receive, she may not want to hear.
Thai horror, Chinese horror, Japanese horror, Indian horror; no I’m not pigeonholing in anyway – each country has its own cinematic identity. But what I am attempting to highlight is that they share a continent, consequently, their cultures bare nuances.
Unsurprisingly then, is the fact that this film is yet another testament to the unnerving imagination and bravery of the Far East film industry.
It seems as if – with every film I view from the region – the producers barely flicker an eyelid, no matter how depraved the material gets.
The House, on the whole, gets good and depraved; not unreasonably but, rather, exhibiting impeccably timed feats of horrendous abjection and fear. Heads spin and puke green slime; skin decays and giant shadowy apparitions lurk the dilapidated rooms, stalking trespassers. For a low budget production, everything looks extremely realistic. There were definitely no zippers showing on this shoot.
However, though the film delivers monsters and the intricacies of psychological warfare, one can’t help but feel as if this type of film has been done and done to death.
There are a number of films before it that it is undeniably reminiscent of. Considering the region’s penchant for originality, I was slightly disappointed with the lack of. I expected something new; something fresh; something that would make the Western world want to remake it into exactly the same film, only in English. Instead I got gags appearing and disappearing like clockwork. I call it ‘the open fridge door syndrome’.
Definition: when a scare is made obvious by the camera’s position – i.e. tracking in tight as a fridge door is opened, then when it is closed, revealing the scare on the other side of it.
Just look back at my last paragraph regarding spinning heads and green slime – can anybody say ‘The Exorcist’?
Decaying skin – ‘The Exorcist’ again, mixed in with a little spice from ‘The Evil Dead’.
What I can’t fault the film for overall is the casting. There are a number of great performances beyond those of the undead. The leading lady, for example, who engages the audience with authentic reactions to situations we are familiar with. Ghouls and ghosts are not her only dilemma – she harbours trust issues about her boyfriend, Nu, who comes into contact with the ghosts. Initially, he seems like the perfect partner but, once he is possessed, you’re unsure of his intentions as he becomes increasingly distant. Moreover, Chalinee is obligated to mingle with killers in order to get the scoop. One such killer, Dr Chalerm, is a particularly unsettling character. He is almost Lecter-esque in his delivery of enigmatic answers, so you can’t help but be compelled by him.
For me, he was as terrifying as the images of the unknown.
The House is another sinister and macabre journey into the forbidden recesses of the subconscious with scares aplenty. If you want to watch a film with that archetypal Asian style of shocking dreamscapes, then I insist that you check this one out.
Just don’t expect a brilliant story. That’s not what makes this film enjoyable.