Sunday, June 24, 2007

I don't want to watch Alone alone

While I am admittedly not a big fan of the horror genre, I been itching to watch something that will scare the living daylight out of me. So far I have been disappointed. Amityville does nothing for me despite watching it in a darkened theater. Dark Water was more scary when Silas told me the story than when I actually watched it. Having not watch The Ring, its prequel Ring 0 is more confusing than frightening. Haunted Spirit is so amateurish I don't even want to talk about it. A friend once told me there are only two movies that scared the piss out of him so much he shat. And anyone who knows Pang can attest that it takes a lot to scare this daredevil. That 2 movies are the original Ring and a Thai film Shutter. While I have watch neither, the makers of the latter has recently released a new movie - Alone.

Pim is a Thai woman living in Korea with her husband Wee. News from home of her mother's succumb to stroke forced her to return home and once again face the past she was trying to put behind. The movie then revealed that she was the surviving sister of a pair of Siamese twins, with her other half supposingly perished in the operation that separated them. Flashback revealed her sister Ploy to be vengeful and possessive, especially of her twin sister. When a handsome young patient they met in a hospital fell for only Pim, Ploy became insanely jealous and even refused to budge from the bed for Pim to say her farewell on the day he left. This incident leaded Pim to insisted on living a separate live from the sister she is attached to. Hence, the burden of her guilt as she is convinced that her sister would still be alive if she hasn't make that decision.

What really happened? Here comes the spoiler. They are in red, so just avoid them if you are planning to watch it soon.

The sister who survived is not Pim but Ploy. Jealous of and upset with her sister, she strangled Pim to death. The manner in which it was revealed is brilliant, almost as good as Shyamalan's 6th Sense. In the beginning of the film, the sisters are easily identified with a simple pair of glass, with Ploy being the one who wore them. Pim has always been the sweet one while Ploy is constantly portrayed as the ... well, maybe not evil but definitely twisted sister. In the scene of the operation, Pim appeared unconscious while Ploy has a sad longing expression on her face. What we didn't know is that it wasn't anesthetic, Pim was already dead. Which is why the operation need to be carried out to save the surviving twin. Ploy then lived her live as Pim, corresponding with Wee and eventually moving to Korea to stay with him.

While it was great to watch a horror film with a strong storyline, here is where being too intelligent spoilt the mood of the movie. Suddenly, the victim became the victimizer and instead of rooting for her, we started wondering if the haunting spirit is being far too lenient. We no longer care if she survive and in fact hope she receive her just punishment. Afterall, the film been leading viewer to hate Ploy and to have her as the evil spirit definitely up the scare factor while Pim as the spirit leave us wondering if she has the heart to hurt anyone.

When Ploy scheme was revealed, Wee became the victim of torture as she was enraged that he could not accept her even though he has been living with her as Pim all these year. Earlier in the film, she accidentally ran over Wee's pet beagle and was upset that he couldn't care for the new beagle she bought him. They are identical in look, why does it matter so much that they are not the same, she questioned. An intense scene more suitable for a more grounded genre like psychological crime than supernatural horror, in my humble opinion.

Having said that, did the film did it for me? I wanted scare, so was I?

Hell, yeah. There is the complaint that there was too little of the scary parts and each of them was rather short as the director is more interested in developing the characters, which I should mention that they did well in, but it scared me good. The importance of a good director is evident here especially in cliche scene like seeing the spirit hanging on a slow moving ceiling fan because damn, I closed my eyes during that scene. I mean, I saw it coming but it didn't make it less scary. There is some unexpected scene though, one that I remember vividly is when Pim walked along a beach and turned to find that there were two set of footprint behind her. Too bad, it turned out to be merely a nightmare.

This has been an effective horror film for me but if you read the spoiler above, you would understand that I felt the story is more suited for other genre. Now I understand why most horror film has such a simple storyline because at the core or it, it is the scary part that matter the most. If the director has only added a few more scene, and prolong each of the scene to increase the suspense, then I will definitely be scared so bad I shat.

The scare factor is decent. But don't just take my word for it. I dare you to go watch it.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Trip, Rip, Drip.

This post is likely to invoke two type of emotion among friends who read my blog (Hi Alia, Hey Cheryl). The first is probably an immediate concern for my well-being because just a month ago, I had a minor accident. I tripped while moving up an escalator and fell face first onto the edge of its steps. Ouch! Believe me, that hurts.
That incident took place in Ikano and that fall left some cuts on both my shins and three on my lower lips, with the worst one on the left. My first instint was to clean my wound in the nearest washroom but when it would not stop bleeding, I take a look in the mirror and was horrified to find a gash so deep, it practically split my lower lips to two. I was overcame with an immediate concern that the bleeding will not stop and I need medical attention. I rushed out immediately and approached the first guard I can find. Not only was he unwilling unable to help me but he also glared at me with disgust and contempt. I am not sure if he is truly disgusted or merely horrified, which would explain why he refused to budge from his position. So frightened was he by the blood flowing out of my wound that his knee got all wobbly and standing still itself was a challenge. I left him and found another equally (in-)competent guard but at least the second guard did not glare. The woman in the information counter could do nothing but informed me that there is a clinic in Ikano but it was already closed and suggested that I try the one opposite the road in the Curve.
I don't know what made me decided to use the tunnel at the other end of Ikano but I was glad I did as when I was near there, I suddenly thought that the people in Ikea may be able to help me. The first man I approached in a help desk immediately picked up the phone and called their first-aid personnel. Ah.. the Swedish company is well prepared to handle small emergency.
The personnel who came however, told me frankly upon seeing my wound that it was too deep for her to do anything about it. Though she was not able to help, she stayed with me and was sympathetic about the accident. Maybe it was her professional training to relax me so I do not go into a shock but I think she was just a sweet girl trying to help.
I eventually went for a treatment in a 24-hours clinic in Uptown as all other clinics were closed by that hour. The doctor there advised that I needed a stitch for that cut. I asked for alternative and he ended up using glue to held my broken lips together as they healed. Yes... I wasn't aware of it either but there is such a thing as skin glue, used to hold soft tissues together. But as the cut was quite deep, his only concern was that the glue will not works. It took him several attempt before he managed to hold them together. The good news is my lips is almost all healed up now as I type this.
Looking back, the only pain was the pain I felt "on impact", after which it was gone. Considering the depth of the cut, the bleeding stopped very quickly with hardly any effort and there was no itchiness or irritation on the wound throughout my healing. Well, there was the uneasiness that comes with feeling the dry and ugly scab as the wound healed, which for once, I am disciplined enough not to peel as it seems to be the only thing holding my lips together. It kinda reminded me of some cases we see in Ripley's Believe it or Not!, where some people got into a serious accident, like a guy who had a steel rod impaled through his chest but miraculously missed all vital organs and major blood vessel, thus making the injury minimal. My case is much less severe compared to that but I still feel fortunate that it missed whatever veins or nerve in my lips that can make this much more complicated. Unbelievable? Believe it!
As for how I can tripped on a moving escalator.. well, here comes the second "emotional part" for those who are reading this. An unbelievable sense of incredulousness of the dumb things men do coupled with an exclamation of "Of all the stupid stunts he can pulled...".
I tripped because I was running up the escalator. I wasn't even in a hurry, I just do that all the times. I just never tripped before that day.
Yes, I know that was really stupid. And just one week after the accident, I found myself running up another flight to rush to a seminar. Halfway up and I suddenly remembered the accident and stopped. See... lesson well learnt.
I noticed something though. I was used to running up 2 steps at a time but at the time of the accident, I was only running up one. Must be a muscle memory kind of thing that caused that trip then as the momentum then does not feel naturel?
And no, that wasn't my ego speaking. And yes, despite this discovery, I am determined not to run up another flight of escalator.
Oh... if you ever need any help while you are in Ikano, don't bother asking the guard. They are just positioned there to give patrons a false sense of securities but are in fact, not allowed to move away from their designated spot and their walki talkie was not for communicaton for the handling of a emergency but for light chatting on a slow day when the guards are feeling a little bored.