I spent most of this weekend working for my day job, but I managed to sneak in time to watch a new to Netflix horror film, 2007’s The Screen at Kamchanod. This is a Thai horror film. I’ve written about Thai horror before – it’s quite a bit different from J-Horror or K-Horror. It’s more subtle, and the ghosts appear quite different than other Asian spirits.
The Screen at Kamchanod is a hell of a scary movie. Spoilers below.
First, this film is supposedly based on a true story. That’s actually impossible given the ending of the film, but we’ll write it off as poetic license. The plot reminded me of another great recent horror flick, Yellow Brick Road. The story goes like this – in 1987, a film crew was hired to show a movie in a clearing in Kamchanod, a rural part of Thailand. They showed up and set up, but no one came – they showed the movie anyway, since that’s what they were paid to do. Near the end of the film, people mysteriously appeared from the forest and stood watching the movie. The film broke and the people vanished into thin air.
The movie follows Dr. Yut (or Yuth – my subtitles had Yut but IMDB lists him as Yuth), his girlfriend/wife Orn, and their friend Roj as they investigate the legend. This movie has a lot of hidden subplot, things hinted at but not fully explained. Orn, for instance, tries to kill herself early on. You don’t understand why until much later. Yut and Roj also have an animosity that isn’t explained explicitly. Roj appears to be somewhat heroic until the very end, when it becomes clear he’s just as bad as the abusive Yut.
The ghosts are suitably creepy, with the best scene coming when the group first watches the film in a regular theater. Hands appearing, feet under seats, hair, it’s all very freaky. The hauntings become more pronounced as the film goes on, driving the characters to the brink of sanity. In the end, the events from 1987 repeat themselves, and you are left to wonder if it’s an unending cycle.
I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the movie. It had a decent premise anyway, but for there to be the wealth of character development on top of a good amount of scares was refreshing. The movie will definitely leave you looking behind doors and over your shoulder for a while, but there’s a lot of characterization work that is very well executed. The movie never felt slow or boring, and the effects were actually quite good, on a par with The Grudge or The Ring.
The only drawback to the film was that it seemed to be going for a meta-story near the end, which would have been an awesome ending, but then it jumped back into the regular story and ended with a typical horror-cycle ending. They should have gone full blown meta and made the ending that YOU the viewer were watching ghosts. That would have been a great ending.
The film is available on Netflix and it’s not terribly long. It’s great for a spooky October evening, so long as you can stand to read subtitles.