Another one of those Thai films I regularly snag out of Singapore, “Body #19”, looks to be the latest in the medical themed ghost stories to come out of Asia this year, following on the trail of “Cadaver” and “Sick Nurses” from Thailand and “Autopsy Room” aka “Cadaver” out of Korea.
We all know how asian audiences fear the dead…. especially the squeamish nature of handling the dead and the spiritual dangers inherent in such activities. All these films exploit that cultural fear and play upon such beliefs to create suspense.
So how does this one stack up? Let’s find out shall we?
Like those other films, this movie revolves around the doctors, medical students, and professors in a teaching hospital. The story is about Chon, an engineering student living in a rented house in Bangkok with his sister, Aye, who is having nightmares you see….. really BAD nightmares involving the details of the particularly grisly murder of an unknown woman. These vivid, horrifying nightmares are about a lady he remembers meeting at a restaurant that he’s never visited, and combined with the images of a mysterious man killing and dismembering her, prove to be more than he can handle. The scenes actually seem so real that he feels almost as if he himself is the murderer cutting her body to bits and hiding them away. After an accident resulting from one of these vivid flashbacks he experiences, he gets recommended to see a psychiatrist, Usa, who just happens to be the wife of Suthee, a professor at the university. Chon then begins to believe that the dead woman might just be trying to send him a message, constantly begging him to find her. Despite the wishes of his sister, and the fact that nobody seems to believe him, he then starts digging into the history of the woman in hopes of uncovering the truth of his visions.
His investigations reveal that the lady in his nightmares was indeed very real. Her name is Dararai, and she is another Professor guest lecturing at the school regarding the topic of repressed memories. Also, he finds that she was the mistress of Professor Suthee and that she was killed over blackmail about the affair she and the Professor were having. Chon decides that Dararai is now an angry spirit seeking revenge by killing all those who know about her illicit relationship with Suthee and begging for him to release her from the torment her unburied corpse has suffered. Boy is he mistaken….. badly, badly mistaken. The messages are not actually intended for him, they are meant for her murderer. They speak of revenge, and say: “I am still here.”
The story is compelling, if a little confusing at times, but the payoff comes at the end, as the identity of the real murderer is revealed at last. Your Favorite Catgirl can’t go into too much detail without spoiling it for you, but lets just say you probably wont see this one coming.
This one is slick and professionally done as are most Thai chillers these days, with very nice state of the art CG effects scattered throughout. Most other films would rely on the effects to carry the film, but here they are more restrained and serve better to advance the story without being intrusive or distracting.
It’s a long film….running to 1hour and 58 minutes in NTSC format on the Singapore release, and while I have read other reviews of it that felt this was excessively long for the story being told, I didn’t feel that fatigued by it. Small trims could have been made here or there, but not without making the story seemed rushed. Chon’s predicament is complicated…. Neko didn’t feel that it was out of order to allow time to show the disintegration of his world into the terrible mess that it became.
In fact, I’m surprised we didn’t see an effort to have the police chasing him around, attempting to question him about his connection to the murders/ accidents that keep happening, but given the ending of the film, that might just have created more problems with pacing than “Body #19” needed.
The disc itself is mostly up to the fine standards I’ve come to expect from Singapore releases of such Thai goodies, but this one was a bit spartan, with only the film, 12 scene chapters, and no other extras available. The film is presented in full anamorphic widescreen…. but the english subtitles are burned into the film itself rather than being separate selectable ones, appearing within the film image itself making them small and a bit hard to read at times. This is almost unforgivable with DVD formats, even if this is the only subtitled version available. Come on folks…. it’s absurdly easy to author such discs, not going that lil’ extra route is just plain lazy.
Anyway….. Neko liked this film, and gives it 4 “Meows” out of 5 for being competent, well filmed, and genuinely scary. You wouldn’t be disappointed with it either if asian horror is your thing.
Naturally, Neko leaves you with a Trailer….just in case you still aren’t convinced.