Tag Archives: foreign horror films

Shutter (The Original)

This little gem of a horror movie is brought to us from Thailand. Remade, and now the original has to include in its title, “The Original.” Well as far as I’m concerned, Thailand has a pretty good idea of how to frighten me. This version comes to us from directing duo Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom. Other previous projects include Phobia 2, 4bia, and Alone. I haven’t seen anything else from these guys except for Shutter, but I plan on looking for them in the future.

Jane and Tun, (Yeah, Jane) are a young couple, recently fallen in love (I think) who one night, drunk, run over some girl. Without stopping to see if she’s alright, they drive away. Typical hit and run. But as life goes on, mysterious images begin to appear in Tun’s photographs, leading to a story that has haunted his past for years.

This movie has some disturbing images. If you’re like me, I get scared when pictures move. Ever since I was young and saw the book to movie version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches,” I’ve been frightened of some witch cursing me into a picture to live out the rest of my years and die. So yeah, naturally in this movie, pictures move. A lot. There’s one point where I thought to myself, “Screw that. Nobody is ever going to take another picture of me.” You’ll know when you see it.

This movie seems to be low budget and the acting suffers because of it. For most of the actors in this film, besides Natthaaweeranuch Thongmee, ( Jane/ model?) the whole cast has pretty much performed a “one and done.” In foreign films, because of the language barrier, it’s quite hard to tell whether or not the acting’s good. But it’s pretty average in this film. That is, besides the lead actor, Tun (Ananda Everingham). This guy is quite good. You actually get the feeling this guy is breaking down psychologically in this film. A great performance among amateurs.

There’s not really a lot that I have a problem with in this movie. Not much to say. The idea of lost souls trying to come back through photos, the idea of losing one’s soul, being haunted, it’s all great stuff that freaks out and bewilders some people. There’s even a great scene in the film that comments on the idea of spooky photos and the explanation of whether or not what we see in photos are real. Can anybody really ever fake a photo when it’s taken through a lens that can’t be fooled?

All I have to say is, the movie drags on at the end, but it’s totally worth the last image you’re left with. AMAZING. 6.4 out of 10

Don't look behind you.

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A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I thought I’d come back since I’ve settled into classes (at college) and I just watched a fantastic foreign horror film. For my girlfriend’s birthday we sat in front of my computer and just watched A Tale of Two Sisters. First impression? Stylistically and theatrically terrifying. It’s something about the Asians, but their movies are at least 100 times more terrifying than ours. (Probably why we steal and remake all of them in a less horrifying way.)

Now I can’t get into specifics, but this story is about two sisters. Obvious. And a dad (sad), and a stepmom (evil, of course). The deaths of the past come back to haunt the family as they try to settle down into a normal rhythm in their elegantly Western beach house. (Strange.) My girlfriend Kim is a big fan of Asian horror movies, and I find myself intrigued in how foreign horror films seem to capture horror in a different way, but one not too far from our own concept of fear.

This movie, stylistically, was fantastic. Every shot seemed crafted for a purpose, for a reveal, for the ultimate experience in tension. Every shot, from the pans, to the turn around handhelds, to even the still shots, left me breathless in their scope of capturing the emotion on screen, without words. This, coupled with the seemingly wordless actions of the actors was literally phenomenal. You get a sense of the stepmother’s (Jung-ah Yum) anger and frustration with her new family, and the desperation of the daughters(Su-jeoung Lim & Geun-Young Moon), all beyond the control of the helpless father (Kap-su Kim). With every new scene, you are asked without words to figure out for yourself exactly what just happened and what it means in the bigger picture of the film. Some may find this style to be too confusing and frustrating, but the ambiguity should leave most viewers with their own interpretation, a nice way to end films for me.

All in all, this movie was quite a good film and I’d definitely recommend it for true vintage, thriller film buffs. The director is fantastic and his idea of story goes far beyond what you see on the screen. For another good Ji-woon Kim film, definitely check out The Good, the Bad, the Weird. (Great acting and action.) I might even review that one soon. And for A Tale of Two Sisters American, not so good counterpart, check of The Uninvited (2009) featuring Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks. I give A Tale of Two Sisters a 9 out of 10.