Film Review: Body

BOTTOM LINE: A horror that's more arresting in its psychological development than bloodcurdling scenes.

Udine Far East Film Festival

UDINE, Italy -- Based on the real case of a doctor who killed his wife and flushed her remains down toilets across Bangkok, "Body" is a gripping anatomy of murder with psycho-sexual underpinnings and a supernatural overlay. One of the finer specimens of T-horror, the film has remake potential given its sensational subject and a tightly coiled script written by among others, Thai up-and-comer Chookiat Sakweerakul, whose directorial debut, "13 Beloved," was sold to the Weinstein Company to remake. Notwithstanding "Body's" lukewarm reception in Thailand, the brand name of production house GTH, which chilled spines with such international hits as "Shutter" and "Alone," could command notice overseas.

A tad too long and intricate, the narrative is no easy viewing: It fans out to follow a quest for truth by three people while observing the disturbing process of a split personality caused by guilt. Its finale is, if not exactly original, at least emotionally devastating. Such is the subtlety of characterization the mistress is more sinister alive with her propensity for mind control than when she is a mutilated ghost.

Director Paween Purijitpanya tries to match the spiritual complexity in the characterizations with a corporeal experience of fear. However, his MTV background steered him towards stock images of gore and glossy CGI effects. In fact, once the 'ghost' materializes, the scare factor decreases. Other technical excesses are the disorienting crane shots hovering over characters' heads, and the roar of rain and thunder pelting the audience's eardrums incessantly as if there's never a sunny day in Bangkok.

Purijitpanya is sometimes capable of visual virtuosity, demonstrated by a scene in the zoological museum, which initially toys with CGI with the frivolity of "Night at the Museum," but culminates in death by butterflies and barbed wire, which evokes Magritte's savage surrealism. The lethal refrain of a lilting song also effectively shapes the mood on a subliminal level until its significance reveals itself climactically.

Udine Far East Film Festival
GMM Tai Hub Company Limited, Jorkwang Production

Cast: Arak Amornsupasent, Patarawarin Timkul, Plai Poramej, Onijira Laemwilai.
Director: Paween Purijitpanya.
Screenwriters: Chookiat Sakweerakul, Paween Purijitpanya, Eakasit Thairaat, Wanruedee Pongsittichai.
Producers: Jira Maligool, Chenchonnee Soonthornsaratul, Yoonyoot Thongkongtoon.
Director of photography: Somboon Phoopituckul.
Art director: Khomkrit Chai-Nam.
Editors: Paween Purijitpanya, Boonsak Wattanawisit, Surawut Tungkarak.
Sales: GMM Tai Hub Company Limited.
No rating, 124 minutes.