Between this and Ong Bak, Judge David Johnson thinks that Thai filmmaking is making the kick-ass movies that Hollywood has forgotten.
It's unfair to die alone.
The first film proved to be a gruesome little surprise crammed with razor-blade vomiting and orifice-bleeding. You haven't seen anything yet.
Facts of the Case
Six friends and former high school classmates journey into the Thai jungles to reconnect with a jilted teacher, Miss Panor (Napakpapha Nakprasitte), who was forced to leave her teaching position in disgrace when a sex tape leaked out. The friends track Miss Panor down in a secluded fishing village, where she's developed a strange little quirk: eating human flesh.
At first glance, the kids don't suspect anything is out of the ordinary, but as they hang around a little more, weird @#$% starts to go down. They start seeing dead people sitting on the rafters, they catch an old lady eating a rabbit raw, and a general sense of unease permeates the atmosphere.
Turns out, Miss Panor is neck-deep in black magic, and has been perfecting her voodoo skills. And that's not all. She kidnaps men and stores them in fruit jars or chains them up in her hut and tortures them with blowtorches or, using her sorcery, conjures lizards and fishhooks to rip through her victim's flesh. She's a bad seed, and by the time the kids find out the truth, it's too late: there's no getting away, and painful, gooey death awaits each and every one of them.
Is there such a genre as T-horror? There should be. These Thai homies are f***ed up. The first Art of the Devil tied a weirdo plot together with several scenes of truly gross horror. The same kind of sorcery-drenched relatively incomprehensible storytelling is at play in Art of the Devil 2, but the horror scenes have been jacked up tenfold. Folks, there is some serious crap in this film, and though I consider myself of sturdy constitution, more than a few moments had me cringing. Make no mistake: Art of the Devil 2 is hardcore.
Unfortunately, the journey to the third act, where most of the crap really hits the fan, is a fairly arduous one. Apart from an effective opening scene where some poor fool is besieged by fish hooks ripping from beneath his flesh, the first 45 minutes are taken up with exposition: dialogue, flashbacks, and setting the atmosphere. And while some of this character development goes to giving the inevitable death scenes a bit more dramatic weight, the pacing lagged.
The big plus to this slow-moving momentum is that it creates a sense of dark foreboding; we know some really crazy stuff is en route. When the splatter does ensue, it is unrelenting and disgusting, and the film shakes free its methodical feel and rockets toward a blood-soaked conclusion—and a convoluted twist. This final stretch in the film is where it makes its bones, and I am confident that gorehounds will find much substance at what these sicko filmmakers have crafted for you.
The shocks are not of the cheap-o jump scare variety, but instead of the "horrifying scenes of cruelty and torture" ilk, visuals that will stick with you for a bit. Miss Panor is an effective villain, clad in demonic tattoos, and chanting incoherent devil-babble in her hut, preparing for the night's slaughter. And, hoo boy, does she know how to kill people in creative ways. She yanks out teeth and toenails, puts the blowtorch to legs and faces, scrapes the burnt flesh off with a razor, flays villagers and eats the skin off their backs, power-drills foreheads forces victims to gouge out their own eyes and dunk their heads into cauldrons of boiling water, and, her trademark, gets her voodoo groove on. This last feat produces one of the weirder killings I've seen in a horror film: a guy collapses on the ground while lizards spring from his back, bathing him in blood and reptile slime.
So, the story of this movie is the gore and not so much, the story. The plot is okay, though maybe a bit too complex for its own good, and the neck-snapping turn of events at the end alters everything that came before it. Still, if you're digging this flick it's probably because of the splatter quotient, which is, like, 9 out of 10 in my book.
This is a slick release from Media Blasters. The packaging is nice, and freakish in its own right, leading into a solid technical treatment: a clean, vivid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and English and Thai 5.1 surround tracks. I'd go with the original Thai and English subtitles because the dubbing is cheesy and distracting. A nice behind-the-scenes feature includes interviews with filmmakers and actors, though the sound quality sucks.
This is necessary viewing for any self-respecting gore-devotee.
Guilty—of making me throw up a little in my mouth.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
• Making-of Feature
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