I do love a portmanteau horror film. To be perfectly honest, if I lived in a world where all pop songs were 2 minutes long, and no film exceeded 37minutes I don’t think I would be terribly unhappy. What I really like about these anthologies is that you can usually get something out of one instalment, even if the rest of it stinks. Not only that, but maybe you get a chance to explore different Director, ideas and concepts. In Asian Horror, I guess the gold standard is “Three … Extremes”, so I wonder how this little collection of Thai Horror movies stacks up against it?
The first of our tales in “3 A.M.” is “The Wig”. It is set in a Wig shop, where warring sisters May (Focus Jirakul) and Mint (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk) have been left to run things whilst their parents are away. May is the dutiful and responsible one, seeming to enjoy her work (the Wigs are mostly for people who have lost their hair due to illness or treatment), whilst Mint seems to take Amy Childs as her role model, very self centred and partial to fake tan. Things hot up when May takes possession of some new hair, which unbeknownsed to her has been taken from a recent corpse. Tempers rise between the sisters, especially when a bunch of Mint’s friends come round for a drinking session. However, this stolen hair has bought along the vengeful ghost of the girl from whom it was taken, and our otherworldly visitor takes revenge on all.
This really was the least original of the bunch, copying the idea from K-Horror “The Wig” and of course the much loved in these parts “EXTE”. For a 30 minute short, it is also pretty badly paced, spending far too long on the character set up, which in the end doesn’t really have any consequence on the latter part of the film. The deaths are actually not bad, introducing some things I have not seen before, although the preponderance of what I assume of 3D money shots get old really fast. As does the final couple of twists, which will come as no surprise to anyone. It’s ok, but there are far better examples of this kind of cinema.
Up next is “The Corpse Bride”. Medical student Tos (Tony Rakken) takes a side job of looking after the corpses of a young couple who died a week before their wedding. It seems he just has to spend a few days there, performing various rituals, before they are sent to their final resting place. Tos gradually uncovers evidence (stills on the digital camera, a movie on a video camera) that this was not the loving couple that people think, and that deceased Groom to be Mike was actually abusing the rather sexy Cherry. Tos has to open up Cherry’s coffin when a lizard sneaks in, which leads to a somewhat uncomfortable moment, which in turn leads to Tos taking a rather unhealthy interest in the dead girl. Spooky goings on ensue, which lead to the real truth being uncovered, and Tos finding out that obsession with sexy but fundamentally dead women is bad for your health.
I actually rather liked this segment. And not because I think there is not enough necrophilia in cinema. Although Cherry (Karnklao Duaysianklao) does make even having a Y-incision no barrier to being sexy. It works for me, not just because it really is concerned with a real taboo subject, but because it is constructed so well, especially aurally, with lots of creepy creaks and bangs keeping us on the edge of our seats, whilst our stomachs lurch and toes curl about what is actually going on. Now the necrophillia is more suggested than graphic (but then it is a Thai film, so I would expect nothing else, though I do seem to read that there maybe a more explicit version of this around), but there is enough there to make it quite clear what is going on. If I have a real issue with the segment, it is that the uncovering of the truth makes sense overall, but doesn’t quite tally up with what we have seen previously. But as a short and creepy ghost story? It is the most successful of the bunch.
Finally we have “O.T. (Overtime)”, which brings us a lighter and more comic feel. Karan (Shahkrit Yamnarm) and Tee (Ray MacDonald) have a problem in their company. It seems that many of their staff pretty much goof off all day, then come in to actually do their work at night, thereby claiming overtime. So they devise a series of spooky pranks to teach their employees a lesson. After stopping one pretty young thing from exposing herself on Facebook, their attention turns to Bump (Prachakorn Piyasakulkaew) and Nging (Kanyarin Nithinoparath), against and with whom an ever escalating series of pranks are played. To be honest, it all seems a huge amount of teasing fun, and each of the four becomes accomplice and victim in each of the elaborate games. Problem is, something happened very early on in the film, which we were not aware of, and some of the goings on are far more supernatural than the participants initially realise.
This one was actually a whole lot of fun. If maybe a little hard to believe. It sounds like Karan and Tee have been doing this for years, so one does have to wonder why they have not realise it really has had no affect on their slacker employees. Maybe because they involve the same employees on pranks against each other and themselves? Maybe if they spent more time on the job interviews, and less on expensive toys and property damage, they might be a little better off! Maybe I am thinking about it too much . It is all light-hearted stuff, although tonally it does jar against the preceding instalment.
Overall? It is ok. Nothing more than that. No segment is particularly exceptional, though in each I found something of merit. I was actually fearing much worse when the first two entries on the opening credits were the 3D specialists and the Acting coaches! The 3D effects were pretty standard fare (I watched in 2D, but the special moments were pretty clear), although I was intrigued by the use of the surgical string in “The Corpse Bride”.
The biggest flaw is that there is simply nothing really tying all these movies together. The vague idea is that 3 a.m. is the time that Ghosts are at their strongest, but other than a couple of nods to clocks, little is made of this. Maybe if there was an over-arching story this could have been made a little more solid (if nothing more than people sitting round a camp fire and sharing stories). There are some minor scares to be had, and the necrophilia aspect does at least give the viewer something more than blood and gore to squirm over. I’ll give is the mildest of recommendations, but in the world of Thai Ghost stories, I am sad to say this one will barely register.