directed by Kulrachart Jittkajornvanit
(Tokyo Shock, 2003)

I don't think there can be any doubt that the greatest horror movies of the past decade have come out of Asia -- but that does not mean that every Asian horror movie is worth watching. This particular film, Diecovery, is as painfully awful a horror movie as you are ever likely to see.

Part of me hates to come down so hard on this film -- after all, it's more than a little unfair to judge a Thai movie by Western or Japanese/Chinese standards (I think the fact that this film is routinely classified quite wrongly as Japanese says a lot about the state of the Thai film industry). On the other hand, I have to tell it like it is, and it's more than obvious to me that Diecovery is well-nigh abysmal -- so much so that any sort of "you have to understand Thai culture to appreciate the film" excuse doesn't have a single leg to stand on. Cinematic putridity such as this transcends all language and cultural boundaries (but I will concede the fact that much is obviously lost in translation here, as the subtitles were apparently done by someone who only knows enough English to be dangerous).

A half-hour into Diecovery, you'll realize that no horror experience can possibly be worth the price you are paying, as this story drags along at a snail's pace. I didn't need to see the main characters frolicking on the beach for what felt like hours to believe that they are in love. They're newlyweds on their belated honeymoon, for Pete's sake -- of course, they're in love.

Boy, did they choose the wrong resort to stay in, though. Not only is the place run-down, it just so happens to house a ghost in its environs. Twenty-five years ago, a catfight between two young women in love with the same man ended with one of them taking a nosedive from the upstairs balcony. The man and the other woman did what anyone would do in that situation: they sewed the dead woman's lips together so that her spirit couldn't escape to torment them, then buried the body in a shallow grave right in front of the house.

I won't even bother to describe the type of "haunting" that our newlyweds endure, as most of it doesn't make much sense and it's not the least bit frightening. (If the DVD cover doesn't scare you, the movie itself certainly won't.)

A few interesting things do happen, such as the priceless moment when, during an intimate moment, the woman asks her husband to move his hands, only to discover it isn't his hands but a snake that she is feeling. Clearly, hubby has a lot to learn about touching a woman. There's also a "when garden hoses attack" moment to enjoy, and the awful subtitles are good for a few laughs now and then. Unfortunately, an already weak story falls completely apart long before the end, and even the evil ghost grows tiresome.

I'm afraid Diecovery fails in just about every way possible. The story goes from boring to ridiculous, the acting is lackluster at best, the music sounds like some sort of cheap late '70s American claptrap that never establishes any sort of connection with the story, and the special effects could be more accurately described as "special" effects. It would also appear that they just don't teach proper lighting techniques in Thai film schools.

Worst of all, though, is the camerawork. Along with a bunch of weird angles, there's the fact that the camera's steady moments are few and far between. All of this permeates Diecovery with an inescapable -- and decidedly poisonous -- air of amateur filmmaking.

review by
Daniel Jolley

22 January 2011

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