Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I have never been so impressed with an Asian horror movie as I was with The Victim. Beware, this review includes spoilers for the major twist in the movie!
The movie at first glance appears to be about a young, struggling actress who gets a job playing the victim in police reenactments. As she begins her biggest role, playing a former Miss Thailand who was brutally murdered, she is haunted by the ghost of the woman who helps her solve the crime. It’s a pretty standard story, with some spooky effects, but nothing to write home about.
Then, about half-way through the movie, everything is turned on its head.
Just as the main character (Ting) learns the truth of who killed the woman (Meen), and is about to be killed by the true murderer, she is saved by her police friend, only to have her face turn demonic. Then the director yells “cut!”. There’s a moment of confusion where you might not get what the movie just did, but you quickly catch on – the whole first half of the movie was a movie within the movie! It’s a kick in the gut better than anything M. Night Shamalyan has produced.
Suddenly you discover that all the haunting was special effects from the movie, but the actress, May, is really being haunted. People working on the film start dying and the movie kicks into high gear with the effects, much better and spookier than the first half. The director begins finding ghost images in the film and is killed soon after, but you’re suddenly aware that there were weird things going on in the first half of the movie that weren’t part of that story. Eventually May, who has terrible nightmares and blackout spells, finds that she is haunted, though not by the spirit of Meen (who really was killed and is the basis for the movie within the movie), but by the ghost of a girl who was obsessed with May so much she had plastic surgery to try to look like her.
May tries to help the spirit by finding where her body was dumped after a botched surgery attempt by a black market doctor, and believes that everything is fine until the ghost reappears and possesses her once and for all, declaring that she didn’t want May’s help, she wanted to be May. Here the film ends, with the implication that the ghost has now fully taken over May’s life.
As the credits roll, we’re treated to some of the subtle effects from the first half of the movie, showing bits you probably missed where ghostly images appeared that weren’t part of the movie within a movie. Some of them I did notice, but some were very subtle and very well done.
Again, this movie tosses you right on your ear half way through, doing a back-flip that turns it from the run of the mill spook tale into a mind-bending horror. The twist has absolutely no run up, no hints before it happens, and for a few minutes you’ll be scratching your head in confusion until it hits you what just happened. It’s that sudden and unexpected. Few movies today can catch you so totally off guard.
I highly recommend watching this film, probably a couple of times to catch what you miss in the first half!