Fans of the Thai Horror hits “Shutter” and “Alone” will no doubt be anticipating their writer’s first directorial debut. Sophon Sakdaphisit’s “COMING SOON” made it to this year’s SF Asian Film festival and while the movie is a tad uneven, the movie would definitely please his fans. Do you remember that feeling that we get after we watch a real horror film… the shudders, the chills, the girl next to you grabbing your arm? Well, “Coming Soon” seeks to capitalize on those feelings; as it takes you to a world where reality and movie magic collide…where the gimmick claim “Based on True Events” can mean your life when ‘reel’ and ‘real’ life can mean your death.
Shane (Chantavit Dhanasevi) is a young projectionist at a multiplex who gets involved in pirating the upcoming new film “Vengeful Ghost” because of his money issues and his desire to patch things up with ex-girlfriend-theater usher Som (pop star Vorakam Rajjanavatcha). But things don’t go exactly as planned as his partner (Yod, also Som’s brother) in the scheme mysteriously disappears. We also learn that the filmmakers are experiencing several bumps in the night during production.
Now, Shane and Som must do what they can to get to the bottom of the mystery. As they find out that there may be something sinister about the film itself. Just who is this woman on whom the film is based on…who is Chaba? Is she truly the one who haunts and kills those who watch the film?
“Coming Soon” is a formula film in a way that the movie is set up as Shane and Som are once again set up as protagonist to solve the mystery. While it is true, the ghost in the film is a malevolent, vengeful ghost; it is not a Yurei (Long-haired pale ghost) but looks like an ugly, hair-losing hag-witch that would make Freddy Krueger look good. This ghost is based on the character in the film, a dead legged ugly hag who kidnaps children and gouges their eyes out. The film is pretty ambitious and I enjoyed its premise about making a horror film about the reel and real life. “Ringu” took the killer video tape premise to the max, and “Coming Soon” really takes the premise of a “killer movie” literally. Sure, it won’t match “Shutter” or “Alone” (which I should review later) for sheer creepiness, but I would cut the director some slack as this is his first feature film, and it is better than most Thai horror movies.
The direction is successful in generating the right creepy tone, mood and atmosphere as he takes the film into overdrive. Sakdaphisit keeps the film at a pace that just keeps moving and in this way, he manages to keep the viewer interested. The suspense is there and quite frankly, they were effective; but its just that they feel a little familiar in the manner of which they were set up. Mirrors were used, as well as shadows to generate creepiness, (don’t take this in a negative way) to put the viewer in a way to generate scares. The film does generate plenty of chills and creepiness, as he maneuvers the camera angles very nicely. The make up effects were pretty good and there are some scenes of graphic unnerving scenes as well as some blood and gore. The film was successful in the ‘creepy’ department but they were just a little familiar.
The story brings the premise of a horror film within a horror film. It gives the viewer the feeling of being actually in a ‘killer movie’ that follows some elements of a ghost-slasher flick. I also liked the twist and turns about Chaba and the way it was revealed. The secrets of the movie is actually a little predictable but it was developed well. However, it does open up one huge plot hole that leaves the answer to the viewer’s imagination. The acting was decent but I thought the two leads failed to really connect and form a chemistry. The love story subplot was a little unnecessary but I do see its purpose, I just rather wished that the film could’ve developed the “killer movie’s” filmmakers a little more.
“Coming Soon” was successful in taking the audience in a setting that everyone can relate to and I am certain that it only be a matter of time before this gets an American remake. We’ve all seen “Based on true events” and we’ve all been to multiplexes, so the film has a premise that we can all connect with. It was nice to see some of Bangkok’s large multiplexes and I sure miss the “seat reserve” feature they have in Asia. Dang, they have ushers too! Well, “Coming Soon” won’t be a classic like “Ringu” and the original “Ju-On”, but it does have its redeeming factors and was successful in generating scares. I was just happy to see that Thai Horror is very much alive; and may well be able to compete with the likes of Japanese horror.
Timid Recommendation, RENTAL First is advisable [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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"What kind of scenes in a horror film scares you the most? When a ghost appears totally unexpectedly? When the main character does not see the ghost sneaking up behind him? When at the very end you find out that the main character was actually a ghost all along? But none of this compares to the feeling of arriving home alone and suddenly being stuck by a feeling of dj vu that you are reenacting the very same scenes in the horror movie you just saw! This movie will scare you from the second you step inside the movie theatre. It will get you thinking if Something or Someone might be waiting for you to let your guard down. The horror movie that you just saw is about to happen to you in real life!