Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Ghost Game ล่า-ท้า-ผ (2006)

This movie bombed at the Thai box office, was pulled out after a 3-week run, sparked off protests in Cambodia and caused a diplomatic incident. Watch it now!

The cast of Academy Fantasia (a popular Thai reality show about aspiring actors) star in Ghost Game, a horror movie about a paranormal Fear Factor type reality show where contestants are apparently taken to creepy locations to rough it out, and the last one to be spooked out wins. Imagine what would happen if the contestants were brought to a really haunted prison camp formerly run by a bloodthirsty commander.

That’s an interesting enough premise, but something has gone very wrong. I’m guessing it might have something to do with letting a first-time director helm this film, or the fact that this is the very first film from this production company. I wouldn’t be surprised if the producers are rookies as well – that would fit in just nicely with the amateur acting cast of Academy Fantasia.

The reality game horror movie is something that hasn’t been fully tested, aside from a mild flirtation in Halloween: Resurrection. While reviewers complained its director was underinformed about the very plot device he used to update the Halloween series, it is clear that Sarawuth Wichiensan has even less of a clue about reality television than he has of horror movies.

Here is my list of cinematic crimes that Sarawuth Wichiensan is guilty of:

1. For a reality show set on a sizeable island, where are the crew with handheld cameras tagging along each of the 11 contestants for almost all their waking and sleeping hours? How do we see what happens in the film if there are no camera crew around to film the footage?

It’s rather bizarre since we do know that the CCTV-style cameras on the ceilings of the rooms and corridors in the former prison camp are incapable of broadcast quality footage and not to mention are incapable of shooting close-up angles or even moving about. Yet at times, parts of Ghost Game look as though they are shot in hand-held, and we know there are no on-site camera crew in those scenes. What gives?

2. Sarawuth Wichiensan has this rather cute impression that a reality show that follows the movements of 11 contestants over a few days can be aired live on television at apparently all times of the day in Bangkok. In real life, reality shows are filmed on location, then edited at a studio, and broadcast on television months later.

That this ill-conceived notion went uncorrected is quite a feat when you realise that at least 11 people on the set just went through a reality TV show, and would know much more than the director on the topic.

3. Can someone tell me why there are tonnes of screeching violins and assorted horror movie sound effects when the horror movie is about what takes place during the actual shoot of a reality TV show?

Either the Ghost Game takes place in supposedly “real life” and “real time” – in which case there should not be any non-diegetic music – or the Ghost Game is a partial parody of reality shows, in which case the director should play up the music, using cheesy Survivor tribal council style theme and the Tribal Challenge theme, and arrange to bump off the annoying characters in style, accompanied by more cheesy music of the non-horror kind.

4. Perhaps the greatest crime is this: at the beginning of Ghost Game, footage is shown of a previous camera crew mysteriously dying of extreme shock at the same site. At the end of Ghost Game, when the killings begin, the contestants and crew do not die in the same manner, despite the fact that they encounter the same forces that killed of the previous crew.

5. A horror movie is simply not worth watching if it breaks its own rules. Or if the makeup for the ghosts is so amateurish and half-baked that it reminds you of your secondary school drama night event.

Ghost Game is a horror movie so poorly conceived and far worse executed that the only horror you can experience comes with the realisation that you paid money to watch it. It is incompetently made, yet unlike the glorious trash of Ed Wood, it lacks creativity or even entertainment value. Yet there is one way to get me watching this movie again, and to pay good money too: some enterprising television network should get the rights to do an Asian version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and screen this with a running commentary by sock puppets making fun of every bad line, scene, and concept in the movie.

First published at incinemas on 17 August 2006

1 comment:

Bangkok Hotels, Thailand said...

That's very interesting film. Thanks for the story and informative detail.