Victim, The (DVD)
Directed by Monthon Arayangkoon
Released by Tartan Asia Extreme
The Victim is one headfuck of a movie … though not necessarily in a good way. I will give it some points for not following the tired old ghost stalking girl plot element for the first, say, 75% of the movie, but after that it all comes apart.
We start off in the shoes of struggling actress Ting, who will do anything to get her big break. When the police randomly catch wind of this fact, they ask her to play the part of murder victims for police re-enactments. Apparently in Thailand, they have this very fucked-up form of justice that allows, for example, a man who killed a woman with a hunting knife to get the knife back and re-enact how he killed the woman for the police. Seems a bit dangerous to me, but then I’m just an uptight gweilo.
Ting sees her big, big break when a noted supermodel is found cut to pieces, and vows to the spirit of said victim that if she gets the chance to play her in the re-enactment, she will do her best to honor the starlet. Vanity wins even for the dead, so of course the policewoman who is originally chosen to portray her meets with an unfortunate accident the day of the shoot.
More plot unfolds, we begin to realize that the police are way off base on their assumption of who committed the crime, and just when Ting is about to be killed by the real murderer … the film completely switches gears.
Suddenly, we realize what we’ve been watching up this point has been an actual movie being made. Ting is suddenly May, an actual famous starlet playing Ting in the movie of her story and there’s a whole other kind of ghost story going on because, apparently, May is possessed by some sort of evil spirit who we later find out is a character we’ve never seen before and has no bearing on any other plot elements.
Let’s just say I’m really glad I watch this with someone else cause alone I would’ve probably given up trying to figure out what the hell was going on right about the time the movie flips, which is about 40 minutes in if you can believe it. Sadly I can’t even say it’s worth sticking with to the conclusion, because the end is just another goddamn pissed off ghost doing pissed off ghost things. Man I’m sick of those.
But The Victim isn’t all frustrating. It’s shot beautifully, has a score that you can tell a lot of thought was put into rather than the usual orchestral yawn-fest and there are some great visuals throughout. Of course, there’s also some appalling use of CGI to balance those out (see the screen grab below for an example). The CG is even more occularly offensive because there are some quality practical effects done, as well, so it just feels like either laziness or a rushed schedule.
One other thing I want to mention just because it’s a pet peeve of mine, considering how many things I watch with subtitles; there’s really no excuse to have sub-par sub titles any more. Back in the day it was forgivable because there wasn’t a lot coming into the country on a normal distribution basis, but now with Tartan being one of the leaders of putting out Asian films, to see one with subtitles this, well I guess the best word would be “distracting”, is just frustrating. You can read through them and imagine how they could be written better to sound more natural, but they just never get where they should be.
Don’t expect a lot from the DVD; though the picture and sound quality are obviously top-notch, the only feature to speak of here is a “making of” doc that clocks in about 20 minutes long. It’s apparently a TV special aired in Thailand about the making of the movie, and how for many of the crime re-enactment scenes they used the sites of real murders. The quality is sketchy on it, but if you dig the movie enough you’ll probably find this entertaining.
All in all The Victim isn’t what I’d call a painful experience like some of the other Tartan releases of late have been (like Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman which I couldn’t even bring myself to review); there’s just enough interesting stuff going on to make it worth a viewing, just don’t get too settled into the first half or your head’ll be spinning.
3 1/2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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