I’m delighted by my newfound courage to face and conquer a great nemesis that has plagued my life since the day I was old enough to understand the concept of fear.
For some reason I can’t adequately explain, I find myself suddenly no longer crippled by horror movies. The nights when I have to sleep with one eye open after watching a horror movie are over!
I was able to watch 4BIA with unreserved enjoyment after succeeding in psychoanalysing myself out of fear. Which is good, because 4BIA is as scary as it’s entertaining.
It’s a collection of four short films made by four illustrious Thai directors.
The story is that one of them latched upon an idea for a horror film, but realised that his material could only fill one short film, so he roped in three other directors to make a feature-length run with four short films.
I like that. It’s like watching episodes of The Twilight Zone. Each bite-sized tale is a surprise and leaves you with a sick feeling in your gut when it’s over.
Director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon (The Iron Ladies; M.A.I.D.; Metrosexual) kicks the anthology off with this silent horror.
A pretty young lady is grounded in her grimy apartment thanks to a broken leg. She’s lonely and bored and shuffles on a clutch restlessly between her desk and bed.
Then, a mysterious stranger sends her an SMS requesting friendship. After some cursory hesitation, she texts him back. A peculiar friendship bordering on puppy love develops over the next few days.
Alas, she is alone, crippled and stuck in a small, claustrophic apartment. And she obviously didn’t heed the age-old parental advice to never talk to strangers.
Actress Maneerat Kham-uan delivers a noteworthy, essentially solo, performance which raises your hackles in preparation for the next few shorts.
Tit for Tat
This tale explores the subject of black magic via a bunch of rebellious teenagers facing expulsion from school after being caught with weed. An act of cruel vengeance directed at their tattertale results in an explosive series of unfortunate incidents.
This is director Paween Purikitpanya’s second foray into horror after a successful run of Body #19. Tit for Tat has been described as an action horror, but I would say the action comes more from the schizophrenic camera work and jump-cut editing than from the actual action in the story.
I felt like I was watching an extended MTV. The actors are all beautiful and glamorous (even when drenched in sweat and blood). The shots are visually exciting. The edits are quick and in your face. The lighting is often stark and contrasting. The pace sets your heart pounding from start till end.
Unsurprinsingly, I later read this on the 4BIA website.
Paween’s background in music video perfects his visual smoothness, and he shows his talent in winding up screen tension with such spooky efficiency. “I prefer my films to be like rides in an amusement part, instead of being objects in a museum,” he says.
I actually enjoyed the cinematography and editing more than I enjoyed the story itself.
In the Middle
The third film provides refreshing relief after you’ve been put on edge for an hour. In the Middle is touted as a “comedy horror”. However, despite that tag, and despite the laughter from the audience, this short is no less scary than the first two.
This is the story of four young men on a rafting and camping trip. Scaring each other with ghost stories, one of them jokes that if he were to die on the trip, he would come back and haunt the person sleeping in the middle.
What do you know, he drowns the next day, thus setting the scene for some horror buildup.
Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter; Alone) directs this with an equal balance of comedy and horror, which is no easy feat. I mean, how can you feel fear when you’re laughing? This film shows you how.
A flight attendant is assigned to be caretaker of the body of the Princess of Khurkistan, who has suffered a sudden death and has to be flown first class back to her home country.
The body is seated in the first row of the plane, which is eerily empty save for Pim, the beautiful flight attendant, and two pilots in the cockpit. Pim has to make sure that nothing happens to the body during the flight.
But who’s going to make sure that nothing happens to Pim?
Director Pakpoom Wongpoom (also Shutter; Alone) made this film after learning that the royal dead cannot be transported in coffins and have to be seated like regular living people, leading him to wonder what horror could happen on a plane with a dead body sitting around in plain sight.
Being the most visually frightening of the lot, this classic horror very nicely rounds up the anthology. In fact, it was so frightening that Sabrina and Pris ran off 10 minutes into the film and never came back.
Methinks the title is very apt.
I watched 4BIA at the Blog Aloud series by Golden Village, where we got to meet the four directors as well as two members of the cast.
Left to right:
Maneerat Kham-uan (Actress – Happiness)
Paween Purikitpanya (Director – Tit for Tat)
Parkpoom Wongpoon (Director – Last Fright)
Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk (Actor – In the Middle)
Banjong Pisanthanakun (Director – In the Middle)
Youngyooth Thongkonthun (Director – Happiness)
Director Paween Purikitpanya told the audience that if everyone likes their film, they would make a 4BIA 2.
Well, I would really love to see a sequel, so please support this film!