The Victim (a.k.a. Phii khon pen), 2006.
Directed by Monthon Arayangkoon.
Starring Pitchanart Sakakorn, Apasiri Nitibhon, Penpak Sirikul, Chokchai Charoensuk and Kiradej Ketakinta.
An aspiring young actress is hired by the Bangkok police department to play a victim in a crime re-enactment and decides to try and solve the murder herself when she starts to feel a supernatural connection to the dead girl.
M. Night Shyamalan has made his name synonymous with certain things. Upon release of his breakout film, The Sixth Sense, he re-invigorated the demand for “twist” movies. For better or worse, in the coming years since, there’s been a bombardment of them. Not only that but the rise in ghostly chillers was partly inspired by that film, as well as the increasing popularity of Japanese horror and subsequent remakes. Of course old M. Night has gone on to do an ever worsening stream of tripe since the brilliant Sixth Sense. Oh well. The Victim is a Thai horror that owes much to the Shyamalan production line (for better and worse), as well as Japanese horror.
The film centres on Ting, a wannabe actress who finds herself hired to act in videoed police re-enactments for murder cases. She proves popular, becoming something of a minor star as a Crimewatch equivalent of Audrey Hepburn perhaps. Soon she finds herself being haunted by the ghosts of those she’s portraying with one case in particular – the death of Meen, a former Miss Thailand. The apparitions lead Ting to suspect that the man arrested for the crime is innocent, while the real killer is still at large. Ting begins investigating herself, as Meen’s angry spirit continues to torment her.
The concept is quite engaging here. Pitchanart Sakakorn exudes charm and likeability as Ting and carries the film through. That said this doesn’t do enough to keep a firm grip of the audience whilst the film twists and turns a few times too many. The story does take a very interesting U-turn at one point, but then just derails and becomes illogical and disjointed. By the time the film ends the final conclusion is a little unsatisfying. It’s one of those twists that is pulled from thin air and as such that game of tennis between filmmaker and audience becomes un-air. You have to allow for the viewer to be able to decipher the film themselves. There has to be enough in the film to do that. Even M. Night knows that! A truly good twist film will keep the audience guessing till the end before sweeping the rug out from them so that upon re-viewing you realise and appreciate the build up more. Watching this film is like having a water-fight with the kid who sabotages your super-soaker and then comes at you with a hose. It’s not fun, it’s annoying.
The horror side is okay. It’s a little tame and all a little cheap. There’s never the sort of atmosphere of intense creepiness you’d get in something like The Ring for example. There’s plenty of vengeful spirit deaths to keep genre fans happy but by the end of the film there’s just not enough to make this worthy of repeat viewings. For all that certain concepts and ideas in the film are engaging and interesting, the delivery is often just too wayward. To the film’s credit though, there’s enough going on that it doesn’t drag, even if much of the final third might leave you scratching your head somewhat as the script’s cohesion begins to unravel.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★