An entertaining and suspenseful merger of ghost story and crime thriller, "The Victim" also sports nifty film-within-a-film smarts to capture more of the imagination than standard Thai genre offerings. Pic looks primed to scare up healthy numbers domestically and will make a most satisfactory addition to ancillary libraries elsewhere.

An entertaining and suspenseful merger of ghost story and crime thriller, “The Victim” also sports nifty film-within-a-film smarts to capture more of the imagination than standard Thai genre offerings. Toplining local supermodel Pitchanart Sakakorn as an actress whose leading role in a murder movie turns uncomfortably real, pic looks primed to scare up healthy numbers domestically and will make a most satisfactory addition to ancillary libraries elsewhere. Fests with Asian horror spotlights should also check this one out. Pic opened in Thailand Oct. 12.

Smartly paced item kicks off with bubbly but career-stalled actress Ting (Sakakorn) catching the eye of a cop who needs models for crime re-enactments. In what will seem strange to auds unfamiliar with the way serious crimes are frequently handled in Thailand, Ting’s job is to play the victim in photo shoots with actual (handcuffed) killers and rapists at the scene. These photos are then published in newspapers and the case declared closed.

Proving so successful in her new career — even forcing killers to break down and cry in remorse — Ting is signed to play the lead in a movie based on one of her photo shoots. The case involves the grisly murder of Meen (Apasiri Nitibhon), a former Miss Thailand whose hubby has been fingered for the deed. Once the film’s in production, Ting starts seeing things and becomes convinced guilt lies elsewhere.

At the 45-minute mark of an already intriguing exercise, the pic neatly backflips. What’s been on screen thus far is the actual movie about the Meen murder, and Ting is a fictitious character played by actress May (also Sakakorn). The rest of story makes the most of its multiple identity opportunities without getting too convoluted.

Filmed on many famous crime locations — significant in a Buddhist country where belief in lingering spirits runs high — “The Victim” is well-performed and swiftly marshaled by helmer Monthon Arayangkoon.

Widescreen imagery by lenser Paiboon Pupradub adeptly merges the clean, bright colors of May’s real world with a grungier fantasy look to keep auds guessing about what’s real and what’s not. Minus a couple of wobbly visual effects, tech package is pro.

The Victim

Thailand

Production

An RS Public Co. release (in Thailand) of an RS and Avant production. (International sales: RS Public Co., Bangkok). Produced by Jantima Liawsirikun, Monthon Arayangkoon. Executive producers, Kriangkai Chetchotisak, Surachai Chetchotisak. Directed, edited by Monthon Arayangkoon. Screenplay, Arayangkoon, Sompope Vejchapipat.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen) Paiboon Pupradub; music, Patai Poungchneen; production designer, Voravut Ngernkong; costume designer, Worathon Kritsanaklin; sound (Dolby digital), Kulat Hunsrisuk; Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (market), Oct. 17, 2006. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Pitchanart Sakakorn, Apasiri Nitibhon, Penpak Sirikul, Kiradej Ketakinta, Chokchai Charoensuk.
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