In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I'm here in Montreal! Though I guess I was a little optimistic about the wi-fi. Blogging from my hotel room's toilet if I want to get two bars of a signal, is not really an ideal circumstance if you know what I mean. I made it out to a hot spot at a café to update you now, but even that is a chore as my laptop shares its size and weight with that of a small car.

Anyways, the first genre film I took in was the Thai anthology Phobia 2. Now, as you may remember, I was a big fan of the first Phobia (aka 4bia) back in 2008 – so much so that I put it on my top five of that year – so I was really pumped to hear there was a sequel.

This time around, there are five stories instead of four. The first story is called “Novice” by Paween Purikitpanya about a juvenile delinquent who finds himself in trouble after desecrating a temple offering. The second is Virsute Poolvoralak's “Ward”, which sees a young man bedridden in hospital with broken legs terrorized by the unconscious patient in the next bed. “Backpackers” by Songyos Sugmakanan has two hitchhikers picked up by a pair of shady truckers who definitely have something to hide. The dastardly duo of Parkpoom Wongpoom & Bonjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter, Alone) each provide a story of their own. Wongpoom's “Salvage” has a woman learning the perils of karma while working late and Pisanthanakun's “In The End” reunites the cast of the first Phobia's short “In The Middle”, to again lampoon the Thai horror film industry.

Phobia 2 has a lot going for it. The pacing is better for starters, as the story order is much better suited this time around. It gets increasingly better as it progresses, ending on a supremely high note, whereas its predecessor went up and down a bit. The weakest of the Phobia 2 lot is the first, but “Novice” is a definite improvement over “Tit For Tat”, which was Purikitpanya's entry in the first Phobia. That being said, it still looks phenomenal and the sound design is especially excellent. The second story is pretty par, but “Ward” is enjoyable in its simplicity, even if the jump scares weren't as creative as some we've seen before. Things ramp up considerably in “Backpackers”, where things take a mighty turn in the middle and finish on a fantastically frenetic tracking shot. “Salvage” was really well done and works largely due to its original location - a creepy used car lot/salvage yard. As I said, Phobia 2 ends on a high note with “In The End”. This time, we see our four 'heroes' working on the set of Alone 2, where they actually encounter a ghost. Hilarity ensues.

These characters work so well together, that they really deserve their own film. Everything works in this short, even some of the jump scares, which by this point we should have been desensitized to. Purikitpanya is so good at giving us the laughs that when we all relaxed, he hit us with the scares.

The clever thread of some stories being referenced in others is present again in Phobia 2 with even better results, as one occurrence is probably the biggest laugh of the entire movie. There is also a running theme this time, as car crashes and cell phone calls appear in all.

Yep, the ample talents of the Thai film industry are resolute and standing tall to let you know that the Asian horror genre is still alive and well. Phobia 2 is another solid effort that is best watched with the lights out and the volume cranked.

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