Judge David Johnson thinks hacking up razor blades would be about as bad a way to die as any. Right up there with hacking up live eels.
Love him. Own him. Kill him.
Thai horror? This is a first for me.
Facts of the Case
A rich architect strikes up an illicit affair with an attractive young girl (Supakson Chaimongkol), but when she tells him that she's pregnant, he panics. Eager to shed his mistress, the guy throws a butt-load of money at her, hoping he can buy her disappearance.
But she comes back, claiming the money isn't enough; unfortunately, her ex-lover thinks it's plenty, and such a large amount entitles him to invite his scumbag buddies over for a beachside gang rape.
Humiliated and lusting for vengeance, the girl turns to witchcraft, and teams up with a mysterious warlock to get her curse on. Through the dark arts, she eliminates each and every member of her abuser's family in gruesome, gooey fashion.
But when the architect's huge house and impressive array of assets passes to his ex-wife and daughter (Arisa Will), the murders don't stop. Managing to weasel her way into the family, and attaching herself to the older son, our resourceful killer gets her voodoo groove going, and the killings begin again.
Now it is up to the daughter and her newfound friend, an intrepid reporter, to investigate the secrets behind the slaughter—hopefully before her entire family bites the dust.
If Art of the Devil is characteristic of what Thai horror can be, then I must be missing out. While far from perfect—or original for that matter—Art of the Devil is grisly entertainment, complete with messy, inventive kills, a derivative, but fairly engaging plot, and some gorgeous women.
In short, this little import is better than many of the American horror knockoffs I've had to suffer during my tenure here.
I'll get the griping out of the way first. The biggest detriment to the film is its uninspired story. For what it needs to do, it works fine, but there's really nothing to it. This crazy-ass girl is after revenge and rubs outs her victims one at a time in hopes to get her hands on the family fortune. I don't mind the fact that we know who the killer is from the get-go, but not having that twist does take away some of the suspense. Still, between this and crap like Urban Legend, I'll take this every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
A few of the plot devices have been milked to death before, particularly the curious reporter hot on the trail of a supernatural case despite his superior's resistance and the cheap "hey-there's-a-weird-kid-standing-in-the-background!" jump scares.
So what's cool? A lot of stuff. When these guys buy the farm, they go out in pools of fluid. Because of the witchcraft gimmick, our killer offs her targets by stuffing things into a sort-of voodoo doll, which then translates into the victim coughing up a bunch of awful crap. One guy vomits up razor blades. Another upchucks carpentry nails. And, my personal favorite, some poor guy disgorges a pile of eels, which later erupt from his body, leading to a great scene where his sister finds him lying in the hospital bed, gutted and bloody, with hundreds of eels writhing on the floor. It's pretty sweet.
And about those weird kid jump scares, Art of the Devil deserves special award for "Creepiest Little Kid Ever Used in a Horror Film." Seriously, forget about Samara or that nauseous little girl from The Sixth Sense; wait until you get a load of Creepy Albino Thai Girl from this movie. Yikes.
If you're looking for a new flavor of horror—specifically a cool little bit of foreign horror—I'd recommend checking this movie out. Its shortcomings are far outweighed by the things it does well: getting lots of people to vomit blood and freaking you out with ugly children.
Tech specs: a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. The option is available for English (in fact, this is what comes in 5.1), but the dubbing is pretty bad, and takes away from the dark tone of the film. I'd go with the Thai track and English subtitles. A good subtitled, 20-minute "making of" featurette and some trailers are it for the extras.
Does watching some dude hurl blood-soaked razor blades thanks to a curse put on him by a hot Thai girl appeal to you? It should. Give this disc a whirl.
First Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior and now this. Man, the Thai are pretty dope. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
• Making-of Feature
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