Although Thai director Monthon Arayangkoon’s The Victim isn’t exactly a pitch perfect horror-thriller, it’s still a bit criminal that the film was made back in 2006 and is only now
getting a release in the UK. The Victim’s strength pulls mostly from the basic and striking nature of its premise: a young actress is haunted by the souls of the victims she portrays in police reconstructions, after taking on the role of a particular victim she begins to investigate what happened and is slowly pulled into a mess of supernatural terror. A good mix of thriller, horror, plot twists, and a dollop of black comedy make this feature a lot more accomplished as a whole than your average bog-standard ghost story.
Arayangkoon’s understanding of the composition of horrifying images is obvious throughout The Victim and even when the second half starts to wobble on plot twists, the visual impact is in no way lessened. Images of terror here are eerie and startling: faces summoned out of shadow, long tracking shots through deserted space, the muddling of past and present, imagined and real. All of these help to push the viewer down a rabbit hole with the fantastic Pitchanart Sakakorn who’s wrought twisted lead performance stands out as key to the success of the story. On the other hand, some of the supporting cast can be less striking; fading into wooden monotony, but the success of the director’s control over the involving nature of fear squashes any problems here.
Over-reliance on CGI in some make-up effects tarnishes an otherwise accomplished understanding of the subtleties required in striking fear into an audience. The director’s keen eye is most arresting when he constructs scares comprised solely of glimpses and shadows and it’s this that is most infuriating when compared with the TV-movie feel of the more blasé CG scare-tactics.
Problems kick-in from the big twist that strives for the early Shyamalan-effect but squanders itself somewhere around his later, less arresting, work. From the first unveiling, the film slowly threatens to pop its own bubble, the excellent mix of moods and that wonderful control of visually perfect haunting sequences is somewhat tarnished by a complicated and rushed last half hour that strives to do too much with too little and leaves the film unfulfilled. Still, a good strong lead, consistent visual smarts, and more than enough well-devised scares help leapfrog any lulls in the plot and mark the feature out as impressive.
Director: Monthon Arayangkoon’
Stars: Pitchanart Sakakorn, Apasiri Nitibhon, Penpak Sirikul
Release Date: 6 August 2012