Art of the Devil II (2006)

Reviewed by Johnny Butane

Starring Supakson Chaimongkol, Arisa Will, Somchai Sathutham, Somchai Satuthum, Arisa Wills

Directed by Ronin Team

Art of the Devil II, which I should point out now is a sequel in name only, gained a huge reputation online when a series of extremely horrific poster images were released a few months back. Finding any solid plot info on it was a bit difficult at the time, but no one really cared too much as long as the imagery in the film could match up with that of the poster.

Media Blasters has the DVD out as of last week, but I got the chance to catch it on the big screen at Fantasia this year and it’s definitely what would be considered a crowd pleaser. The imagery does, indeed, match what’s on the poster and then some, especially towards the end when some really bad shit goes down, the only issue with it is the over dramatized plotage that goes in between.

The story follows a group of 7 friends who reunite to comfort one of their own whose father has passed away. They join him in up-country Thailand, in the middle of quite literally nowhere at a house that is only accessible by boat. Before they have too much time to enjoy themselves, very nasty stuff starts happening to their numbers one by one. Two years before, the group went to a Cambodian witch doctor to help lay down a curse upon their especially vicious gym teacher, whose incredibly messy death opens the film, and now they believe that the repercussions of said curse are being visited upon them.

The truth of the matter is more convoluted than that, unfortunately, and therein lies most of the problem with Art of the Devil II. Actually, the first and foremost issue with it is that it’s Thai, which is probably one of the most uncomfortable languages to listen to in the world (sorry for any Thai readers, no offense intended, but damn it hurts the ears), but once you move past its origins, you’ll start to see a complicated plot unfold that never really does anything more than give our characters an excuse to emote a bit before their gory dispatch.

In all honesty said plot comes across more teen romance than serious drama, especially the love triangle between the lead girl and two boys who have been interested in her for years. One of them blew his chances years before, the other has now won her favor, and it sets up a lot of glaring stares and serious conversations that drag down the spots in between the money shots.

But man, when those money shots hit, you’re likely going to forget any issues with the plot or pacing pretty damn quick. From the opening death by fishhooks (not in the way you’re likely imaging) to the meeting of blowtorch to exposed flesh, not a single demise in this film skimps on the red stuff. The crowd I saw it with were cheering for the first and crying out in sympathy pains for the latter, and I’m sure the directorial team would’ve loved to hear both reactions to the image they committed to screen.

It’s only been in the last few years that Thailand has become a place to look at seriously for new horror, I think it can be traced back to Shutter actually, so the fact that they relied very heavily on very loud musically time scares, over and over and over again, is almost forgivable. I say almost because, well, they use this method of making the audience jump way too often for my tastes, which is especially annoying when you look at how reactionary the crowd was to the torture and death that went on. Goes too show that some well-timed musical cues hold nothing on boiling water being poured down an open throat.

Though it was definitely a film more enjoyed with a crowd. Despite the plodding plot issues in the middle, I would still recommend getting the DVD from Media Blasters if you can because at the end of the day it’s still a very cool film with some colorful characters and fantastic death sequences.

3 1/2 out of 5

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