An Eastern occult variation on “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Art of the Devil 2” overcomes a stuttering start to deliver the gruesome goods. Debut enterprise by seven Thai helmers operating under the “Ronin Team” banner, this in-name-only sequel to the 2004 hit notched an impressive 40 million baht ($10 million) on domestic release last December and has since become the highest-ever Thai earner in neighboring Malaysia. Strong worldwide ancillary is indicated, and fests with suitable sidebars may want to take a look. Pic took the audience award at the Bangkok fest.
After fussing around with more flashbacks than its opening reel requires, matters firm up once the supernatural secret binding Ta (Namo Tongkumnerd) and five former school friends is fully laid out. A well-staged flurry of fatalities commences when the group’s reunion at a spooky house by the river is interrupted by Ta’s estranged and insane stepmom, Panor (Napakapapar Nakaprasit). Local favorite Nakaprasit steals the show as the vengeful parent with an ax and several other nasty implements to grind. Top tech package includes sharp lensing, convincing f/x and Wutichai Praiwan’s good old-fashioned orchestral score.