The Victim (aka Phii khon pen) DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Tartan Video
If we play the characters of the dead... won't we insult their souls? – Ting
Written and directed by Monthon Arayangkoon
2006, 108 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released September 18th, 2007
Pitchanart Sakakorn as Ting
Apasiri Nitibhon as Meen
Penpak Sirikul as Fai
Kiradej Ketakinta as Lt. Teerasak Kedkaew
Chokchai Charoensuk as Dr. Charun
In a moment of right place, right time, budding actress Ting (Pitchanart Sakakorn) scores a pretty good gig — playing the victim in various crime scene re-enactments. Seems in Thailand, after catching the bad guy, the press gets a chance to photograph the crime scene the way it went down. With the defendant. And his weapon. And Ting is the lucky girl that acts out the role of the (usually ending up dead) victim.
Ting is hesitant at first. Not of the danger involved (this re-enactment job seems to be a common thing), but because she feels she may be dishonoring the dead. Yet, Lt. Kedkaew (Kiradej Ketakinta), her handler, convinces her otherwise, and Ting becomes an overnight celebrity. And not just with the living.
Soon enough, the dead start reaching out to Ting to be their voice, too. One in particular, Meen (Apasiri Nitibhon), solidifies Ting's presense on the re-enactment scene by taking care of the competition. Certainly Ting's praying to Meen, that she will do her justice, helped. But Meen didn't do it out of the kindness of her heart, her boyfriend falsely confessed to her murder and she wants Ting's help to clear his name, and bring the true killer to justice.
That's all well and good for Meen, but Ting is just an actress, and not a detective. So when Ting, with some supernatural help from Meen, discovers the murderer, she may just become the victim herself.
If you ever plan on watching The Victim, which you should, avoid reading anything about it (excluding this review, of course). Because the breakdown above is just for the first half of the movie. At about the 40 minute mark, Victim takes a hair pin turn out of nowhere and right into Whatthefuckjusthappenedville. And it does a relatively damn good job with it, to boot.
What makes the turn work is there's no buildup at all to it. It just happens, no fanfare, no nothing. Up to that point, the story flows at a very steady, and consistent, pace. There is no rush to the first half at all which, looking back, there easily could have been. Hell, the only time I checked the time remaining on the movie was when the first half's climax was about to go down. Like I mentioned, it wasn't rushed, it naturally happened, but I knew the movie wasn't a short, so I knew it wasn't almost over. It's kind of like when Marion Crane does the knife dance Psycho. It's so jarring, you can't help but keep watching to see where in the hell it's going.
The second part of Victim is very much tied into the first part, too. In a roundabout way. The first half is entirely through the eyes of Ting, where the second is through the eyes of everyone else. Ting is still very much the center of the movie. Kinda. And the entire tone has changed.
I'm intentionally being vague because it would really ruin the turn if I spelled it out.
Sadly, though, while the twist was nicely executed from go, it didn't pan out in the end. If they had kept with the original storyline throughout (with the turn), it would have been rock solid. But instead, they cheated the ending by throwing something at you that was never introduced until the very end of the movie. That's a shame, too, because Victim certainly had me going right up until the finale.
Pitchanart Sakakorn really does a fantastic job as Ting. There are differences in her character in the first and second half, and it was impressive to watch her handling of the character. In the first half, Ting is somewhat shy and naïve where in the second her character is more sure of herself.
And there are fair share of frights to be had in The Victim, as well. One of the best, oddly, is nothing more than a voice in a pair of headphones, and a look from Ting. Nothing else. Goosebumps raced up my body when that voice filled my room, and then again when I rewound it just to scare myself, again. But there are a few visual scares, as well. I don't know about you, but it freaks me the heck out when a character is driving down the street and notice a damn ghost climbing along the side of their car at 80 miles per hour. Yet there are also a couple of CGI ghosts I could have done without. Considering on how well Victim did with the makeup effects, surely CGI could have been not used as much.
Overall, though, this was an impressive flick. It made me curl up on a few scenes, and kept me engrossed throughout. The Victim is not quite as good as its Thai stablemate, Shutter, but it's definitely worth a look for fans of Asian horror and don't cry about the female ghost. Easily worth a rental for the casual fan, and a purchase for the hardcore fan.
Video and Audio:
The Victim has a beautiful anamorphic presentation. The picture is very sharp with very few instances of digital compression. When I say few, I really mean two or three. The colors are natural, and sometimes jump out on the screen. Easily one of Tartan's best presentations to date. And these cats always deliver a solid look.
The Thai DTS track is just as good. The bass booms when needed, and there is a lot of rear and side usage. The soundtrack, like the video, only gets you into the movie that much more, especially when you know the ghost is about when you start hearing your left and right rears kicking in with some funky sounds.
If there is one quibble I have, it is with the job done with the subtitles. They are noticeably bad. As in broken English bad. Many times, I found myself either translating the subs in my head, or automatically adding necessary words. There really is no excuse for this, especially in this day and age.
Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 and English and Spanish subtitles are also available.
- The Making of The Victim
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
The making of featurette is pretty damn neat. Instead of the standard behind the scenes bit put together by the studio or filmmakers, this 20 minute piece is something that was on TV concerning the strange instances that happened during the filming of The Victim. It includes plenty of interviews with the cast and filmmakers, as well as numerous "ghost" photos. Admittedly, the photos are certainly questionable (some, I still couldn't see what the heck they were pointing out, even though there was a big circle around what I should be noticing), but it's still a fun watch. Apparently, the filmmakers kept the eerie happenings from the cast, as not to spook them. But there is a video of when the cast was shown some of the supernatural pictures from the set, and their reaction is hilarious. It's a cool featurette all around.