Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Screen at Kamchanod (2007)

This is one of the best horror films I've seen in the past year. Certainly its hung with me more than most other films, even films I've thought were better after viewing them. This film has stayed with me and stayed in my dreams.

Supposedly based upon a true incident, as all "good" ghost stories are, this is the story of what happens when several people seek to repeat an event that had happened 20 years before. It seems that several people set up a film projector and screen in an open area in the jungle. When they started screening the film the field was empty. During the course of the film it began to fill with people wandering in from the woods. When the film ended everyone except the projectionist disappeared.

As the film opens a small group of people are trying to run down details of what exactly happened. The details from the news accounts are sparse. They try and locate anyone who was there, finding one man in a hospital sick and slightly unbalanced grasping tightly at an amulet. They try to locate the film that was screened, a quest which opens up many doors that should remained closed. What happens from there will shake them, and the audience.

This is a good, quietly disturbing horror film. It's a film that relies on mood and lighting and half caught images to slowly build the tension. When was the last film that sent chills up and down your spine with just the sound of a creak? Or a lot of creaks? This is a film that is mostly free of fancy special effects. The ghosts we see are decidedly low tech, but they are effective. They are glimpsed on the edges of the frame in the background, and occasionally right in front of one of our protagonists. It all helps to build to a real sense of unease. I don't know when I was left feeling this uneasy. Certainly I don't know when a film invaded my dreams and had me dreaming of ghosts all night. This is not a film of scares and screams, there are a few jumps and starts, but mostly this is a film of slowly building dread that never is fully dissipated.

Its not a perfect film. It's a film that has a great deal going on that isn't said. Things are implied between characters. The narrative kind of wanders and moves with a dream logic that seems to leave things out. It builds tension but also a bit of confusion. I kept feeling I was missing something. The biggest problem is a bit towards the end, which I'm sure was truly terrifying in a theaters, but works less well on home video. It still bothered me, but not as much as it would have had I been in a theater.

Over all this was a pleasant surprise for me. Normally I'm up and down with Thai horror films, finding them either truly scary or more times than not dull and boring. This was neither dull nor boring. This was a more than slightly unnerving experience. Definitely worth a look, especially if you're curled up in a dark room on a stormy night.

Currently available on DVD from various sources.


  1. I was thinking I'd like this movie (I tend to gravitate more toward "creepy" than "graphic" when it comes to horror, and supernatural rather that depraved slashers) until you said you started to dream about it. That means this movie would be trouble for me (I have scary enough dreams on a regular basis as it is). Sounds like a cool one, though.

  2. Don't do what I did- watch it close to bed.

    I wish more people liked the creepy over the graphic then maybe this would get attention.