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October 08, 2009

Coming Soon

coming soon 1.jpg

Sopon Sukdapisit - 2008
Sarawak Media All Region DVD

There is a scene in Coming Soon that takes place in a room with the lights off, with the screen black. It's the kind of scene that you know is much more effective in a movie theater rather than viewed at home on DVD. Much of Coming Soon takes place in a Bangkok multiplex, similar to the one where I saw Alone, my last Thai movie seen in Thailand. One of the writers of Alone, Sopon Sukdapisit, made his directorial debut with Coming Soon, a horror movie about a horror movie. Based on my own experience watching ghost stories in Thai theaters, I could imagine what seeing Coming Soon might have been like at the Major Cineplex in Chiang Mai.

The film begins with a private screening of the horror film within the film, The Revengeful Spirit, a title that pretty much applies to every Thai ghost story made. The gruesome story about a mad old woman who kidnaps and blinds children she claims as her own, the woman, Chaba, is discovered and hanged by some very angry parents. During the running of The Revengeful Spirit the director has walked out. His girlfriend finds him, and he mentions editing the scene of the hanging. It is later that his reasons are revealed.

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In the main narrative, a movie projectionist, Shane, has arranged to run The Revengeful Spirit again with coworker, Yod, in order to make a video pirate copy to be distributed prior to the films release date. Shane has some money trouble from a drug habit, and the pawning of the watch belonging to his girlfriend, Som. A couple of young thugs are the least of Shane's problems when he discovers his life repeats scenes in The Revengeful Spirit, and the ghost of Chaba visits him at home as well as the theater. Shane and Som discover that The Revengeful Spirit is indeed based on a true story, but the horror that they experience comes from the making of the film. Life and cinema merge for Shane. I don't know if Sopon Sukdapisit is familiar with Woody Allen, but one might call Coming Soon the Purple Rose of Cairo of Thai horror movies.

As far as Thai horror films go, Coming Soon is nowhere as good as Alone, or even Shutter or the funny and scary episode, Last Fright in 4bia. The characters in the films Sopon helped write, but did not direct, are more fully imagined. The most interesting character in Coming Soon is Chaba, both the woman seen in The Revengeful Spirit and the real life version that Shane and Som encounter. There is also a plot point that makes no sense, where the supposedly missing movie is never found in the most obvious place to look first. As in too many horror films, gore is equated with horror, with one of the images a direct lift from the Thai horror hit, Sick Nurses. Some of the credit, or blame, might go to co-writer Kongkiat Khomsiri. The scenes of The Revengeful Spirit have more in common with Kongkiat's two Art of the Devil entries than with Sopon's films with the Shutter team. There is one amusing scene where Shane finds himself repeating his actions, as if in an endless loop. One of the other effective scenes is of Shane's search for Yod's cell phone, heard, but not seen. Unlike many Thai horror films that aim for laughs as well as screams, Coming Soon goes for the jugular as soon as it begins. Coming Soon might have been a much better film had Sopon not relaxed his grip.

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Coming Soon is available from HK Flix.

Posted by peter at October 8, 2009 12:06 AM