Ooohh!! I’ve finally an afternoon off to my lil’ self and.. thanks to the recent Taiwanese DVD release of the 2012 Thai horror anthology “3 A.M. – 3D”, your Favorite Catgirl has gotten the much needed fix of creepy ghost stories I’ve been needing of late. Kung fu and swordplay are nice… but there’s no denying it… this wee lady just loves her ghost stories…. 😉
Our synopsis? “Thailand’s latest horror is made up of three chilling and stomach-churning stories… ghosts, demons and vengeful spirits are all out to haunt at 3AM, the scariest hour of the night.
In a wig shop crammed with lifeless heads of dolls, something turns out to be not really lifeless… Mint and May are sisters from a wig-making family, the two can’t get along but were made to man the shop while their parents went out of town. Their nightmare came alive when May unknowingly acquired hair of a dead person….
In a stranger’s house with a dark history, two corpses lie peacefully, side by side… Tos is assigned to take care of Mike and Cherry – a couple killed in an accident just before their wedding. Their parents decide to keep their corpses, as the couple loved each other so much – and their parents still treating them as if they were still alive. With Tos spending all his time with the corpses, he soon falls in love with the dead, but beautiful Cherry… what will this twisted love leads too?
In the middle of the night, the office is as deserted as a graveyard, strange things happen… Karan and Tee are owners of a company whose office is in building rumored to be haunted. The two aren’t scared, and actually enjoyed playing pranks on their staff who work late at night. But soon, the pranksters are no longer certain if the strange things that happened in the office are their game – or someone else’s…”
So… sounds like these stories ought to be right up my alley. But.. to know if they might be the sort of thing you’ll want a look at o’ Gentle Visitor, then you’ll wanna “Read On” and find out all about the creepy goings on…
In this Catgirl’s humble opinion, Anthologies really are the way to go with horror stories…. Remember all those nifty short story collections in books waaaaay back when you were a kid? No? You don’t? Well Neko most certainly does… and I must have read a mountain of them back when I could borrow them from our local library. In movies from those same years, lots and lots films with that selfsame formula ran on TV practically all the time…. all telling those creepy lil’ nuggets of a tale maybe not big enough to fill out the run-time of an entire film, but still powerful and effective bits of storytelling nonetheless. I’ve always liked them. So naturally… when it comes to the Asian horror I like to watch as a grown up kitten, a lil’ nostalgia is never a bad thing for an evening’s eerie film fun. 😉
Now… Thai horror usually likes to go for the gore of late rather than those quiet suspenseful moments of dread yours truly normally prefers, but for the most part, “3 A.M.” tries to go more towards that quiet chill… all wrapping it’s stories around the theme of what this wee lady assumes is the Thai equivalent of “The Witching Hour”… but in Thailand, apparently, that’s at 3 in the morning rather than midnight as most of us here in the West think of it. Hey… you learn something new everyday. 😉
What we get are three stories… all told by three separate directors all with different styles… and differing ideas of what’s scary… and not all coming to jell together as a coherent whole. We start with “The Wig”, directed by Patchanon Thammajira about the fate of two sisters, May and Mint (played by Focus Jirakul and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk respectively) who’s family run a shop producing custom made wigs for cancer patients made from real human hair. Sound familiar? Yep… both the Koreans and the Chinese have visited that idea before, so I knew there probably wouldn’t be any surprises with this one… and I was right.
As can be expected, sooner than you can say “Oh no he didn’t…” some guy is slicing of the hair of some pretty corpse to sell to our wig makers. Yeah… that ought to make for a very cranky.. very bald.. ghost looking for some payback. Now May is unaware of this of course… and despite the fact that she’s both respectful of the hair given into her care as well as mindful of the important gift it is for those who receive the fruits of her talented labor, she’s right in the path of that anger along with her bitchy mean spirited sister who could care less about being a part of the family business. Nope… Mint is just the sort of person who truly deserves some ghostly retribution… and she gets it of course, but not before her sister May pays the price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The second story, “The Corpse Bride”, directed by Kirati Nakintanon, tells the story of a medical student Tos (played by Toni Rakkaen) looking to make some extra cash by playing caretaker to the coffins of a young newlywed couple Mike and Cherry laid out in their wedding clothes in the chapel of their creepy home for a few days prior to their funeral. Although we never see Mike… due to some fairly messy accident he suffered on the night they died… we do get to see plenty of sexy Cherry as Tos starts getting a wee bit obsessed with her. A little necrophilia anybody? Oh yeah… we got that covered. Mind you… being a Thai film under the new censorship rules there’s lots more hints about it than anything really nasty and gratuitous in that way. Thank goodness… Now there is an evil ghost in this tale with an ax to grind along with all that forbidden desire… but it’s not the ghost you might think and not the vengeance you might expect either.
Then we switch gears to the quirky “OT” directed by former Ronin Team member Isara Nadee… all about the odd elaborate pranks and games played by Karan and Tee (played by Shahkrit Yamnarm and Ray MacDonald), the owners of a software company, on their employees after-hours in the darkness of their offices in a highrise. Seems most of their IT workers are nothing but terrible slackers all day, wasting their time until they can clock in for extra OT hours unsupervised at better pay. That naturally, is something Karan and Tee decide needs to stop. After they have a little fun that is. This results in those same employees pranking back… and bringing even more extreme tricks from the bosses in return as they each strive to top the last stunt. Oh yeah…. that sort of crazy stuff just has to result in someones death… but the real trick is figuring out who will die first. Or if they’ll even realize it.
So… how did these stories go down for this wee Catgirl? Hmmm… they certainly were a mixed bag and I can’t say they meshed together all that well to evoke a common sense of horror… even the idea that each story occurs at the self-same 3 A.M. “Witching Hour” didn’t really help to tie them together all that well. For me, anyway, they could have just as easily been independent episodes of a TV series crudely stitched together to make a feature film. Not that the stories themselves were badly done, mind you… it’s just that they truly lack any overall linking element that would have helped to make them seem a seamless coherent whole story, film wise.
“The Wig” is probably the weakest of the three… having mined an idea that’s pretty much been done to death.. (or should that be Un-death? 😉 ) It’s an OK “vengeance from beyond the grave” thing, but certainly nothing to get truly excited over. “The Corpse Bride” fares better, although you’ll probably see the “twist” reveal coming long before it happens… and the necrophilia angle… well that just creeps you out… and not in a scary way. 😦
Probably my favorite of the three has to be “OT”, just for it’s wacky “ghost bustery” feel as the bosses and employees each duel it out with supernaturally flavored pranks and outrageously unbelievable situations gone sooo, sooo wrong. Even so… you’ll probably figure out this one’s ending too about half way through, but at least watching it’s story play out is entertaining in a creepy, goofy way.
All in all, this wee Catgirl gives “3 A.M. – 3D” a mediocre 3 “Meows” out of 5. It’s OK… but simply nothing special in the way of being truly unique or even creepy. The Taiwanese Region 3 DVD is adequate… widescreen with good English subtitles… but weirdly enough they are… wait for it… hard-subbed along with Chinese ones like old VHS tapes from HK used to be. Say what? Yep. No kidding. Hard to believe on a DVD format where separate selectable subtitles are not only easily possible, but the standard on 99% of DVD’s released, well… anywhere. At least they were accurate… and… they were actually there which is more than I can say for the official Thai release for this one. Ahhh… and it’s one big plus… this one was originally theatrically released as a 3D movie, but was thankfully completely without all that 3D tomfoolery on this particular DVD release. Still… even with that…. I’m told this one is also due out in HK soon, so if watching it is on your list, it might be worth your efforts to take a peek at the specs for that disc when it finally comes out.
Trailer? Certainly I’ve got you a Trailer… wouldn’t be a “Nekolishous” review without one now would it? 😉