Reviewed by Paul McCannibal
Directed by Songyos Sugmakanan, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom, Visute Poolvoralaks, and Paween Purijitpanya
Here we have an anthology horror flick with a recurring theme centered around car accidents. There’s a moral finger wagging underpinning a lot of the stories, the notion that doing bad things will come back to haunt you, so I guess this could qualify as “Car-ma” horror.
I didn’t see the first Phobia flick (aka 4bia (review here)), but if I get word that it’s anywhere near as good as Phobia 2 then it’s going to be on my must-see list. I also haven’t seen Shutter or Alone (I know, shame on me) so even though I was able to pick up on the filmmakers’ very obvious self-referential streak in the last story in Phobia 2 (it’s a weird/scary/funny take on what the making of Alone 2 might go down like), I won’t be able to offer much in terms of sizing up Phobia 2 against the Wongpoom/Pisanthanakun oeuvre here…
What I can tell you is that this is a stylishly shot and very well crafted fright flick, an anthology where every instalment is either very good or flat-out awesome.
The first 4 stories are more ghoulish and gloomy in tone. We’ve got a young Buddhist monk who is screwing up his training and messing around foolhardedly with “hungry ghosts”, we’ve got a hospital stay in a room next to a totally scary comatose guy who has freakish supernatural powers and a very sadistic streak, we’ve got a drug-mule scenario gone horribly wrong leading to 28 Weeks Later– calibre mayhem, and we’ve got a used car dealer reselling wheels that were previously involved in fatal accidents without telling her clients. Just like the old EC comic days, the people who have done wrong generally get what is coming to them – and so do some unfortunate innocent bystanders.
The last story shifts gears into horror/comedy territory, and although I didn’t think it was the highlight of the anthology, it did end it on a good note. The whole “scary girl in white with long black hair” theme is skewered, and the filmmakers hold a mirror up to their own processes on set and have no qualms with taking the piss out of all of it. The fictional filmmakers in the story are desperate to come up with a good twist to make Alone 2 original, and they’re basically useless at coming up with one. The real life filmmakers behind Phobia 2 make up for that by pulling through with a clever and hilarious twist to the final chapter to justify all the bizarre and absurd goings-on – to see this twist coming you would have to be a clairvoyant. You might groan when you actually see how the twist works, but you will definitely laugh!
There are zombies, scary ghosts, possessed people, and set pieces of gory delight to spare in Phobia 2. The sheer quantity of effective chair-jumping moments gives this flick a high rating if you’re looking to make your date leap into your arms seeking comfort and reassurance. The cinematography is excellent and there is a broad selection of cool looking Thai backdrops on display. The sound design is particularly effective – these guys throw noise, harrowing screams, and clashing and clanging at you mercilessly in the fright sequences. The cumulative effect of the sound assault is like being trapped inside a metal barrel while a group of insane people stand outside yelling feverishly and bashing the barrel with lead pipes.
Very good movie! Lots of fun… go see it, preferably in the theatre, but at the very least at home with a good surround sound system cranked to the max.
4 out of 5
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