Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Alex Rendell, Charn Ridulsurakarn, Nattapong Arunnet, Pattarapasit Sappasawadichote, Pakorn Chatborirak
The Story: A collection of four short stories directed by four different directors; The Noob’s Human Holocaust, The Gift Shop for People You Hate, The Night to Lose Your Mind and Who R Kong. We can’t reveal to you the specifics of the plot lest we spoil it but what we can say is that these stories aren’t related to each. They don’t all join together to form a tapestry in the end if that was what you were thinking.
The Buzz: Does the concept of four separate Thai horror shorts in one movie sound familiar? Of course they do, they are the same guys that brought you 2008’s 4Bia.
InSing.com says: Being a collection, Four can come across as a herky-jerky experience to some. For example, the first film Holocaust ends way too abruptly just as you think it starts going. On the other hand, The Night to Lose Your Mind drags on way too long. The nature of Four lends itself to this and as such the pacing of the entire film as a whole is a bumpy ride. Subject matter from one film to another flies all over the place; it’s quite literally a genre free for all. While the first three are dark pieces of murder and insanity, the last one is a familial comedy, albeit one with very sardonic humour involving a human corpse. That said, it’s not really its fault, it is merely the nature of the beast.
However, that very same disparate nature lends itself very well to the film’s storytelling experience, in a good way. Credit goes the directors for using non-traditional horror story techniques to get their plots across. Supernatural elements are hinted at in most of these stories but aren’t actually present. Holocaust is essentially a talkie; you have to pay attention to the dialogue to pick up clues on an on-going conspiracy happening off screen. Gift Shop is a novel idea, a gift shop dedicated to catering tormenting a foe. Night starts off as heist film and focuses on the obsession with violence and the power of holding a gun while Kong offers a rather more romantic and colourful look at family and the afterlife. Ultimately, you have to respect the directors for using new elements in this genre. Too often, people settle for cheap thrills in place of a decent plot and the directors here have not done that. Instead, they’ve crafted intricate plots with elaborate twists; with far lesser screen time allocated as well. Cyber warfare and vigilante terrorism certainly weren’t things I expected from a Thai horror flick and I was pleasantly surprised by that.
Visually, the film has gone for a gritty look. Shaky handheld camera work adds to the air of suspense that fuels most of these films and a washed out colour palette enhances a film that’s very generous with its amount of blood. Close ups that are typical of the horror genre are frequently employed… after all; you want to see the look on the actors’ faces when they’re on the verge of pissing their pants or going insane.
All in all, Four is an oddball of a film. It does many things, some of them well and some… not so well. It does try to do some new things in the very jaded horror genre and it’s well worth checking out for that if you’re a fan.