The Victim (2012)

Ting (Pitchanart Sakakorn) desperately wants to be an actor. She takes classes, she practices relentlessly and even appears as a gleeful audience member in some weird gameshow.

By lucky coincidence a police officer overhears her talking about acting at a café and – in a surprise move – offers her a job. As what? This is where it gets a little murky…

Ting ends up on a Thai version of Crimewatch, giving live re-enactments of murders, rapes and violent crimes. She plays the victim (hence the film’s title) in each case and the police use the suspect to re-enact the crime.

It’s culturally confusing as the process of forcing the accused to re-enact the murder / rape etc… is a totally foreign system to that of the Western World. I’ve seen this used in a couple of films before, so it’s not entirely alien to me, but some may be utterly baffled by this strange and slightly disrespectful process.

Yet this is commonplace in countries such a Thailand and at first Ting is a little sceptical about only one aspect:

“If we play the character of the dead, won’t we insult their soul?”

But the cop reassures her:

“Not really.”

By ‘not really’ the cop probably should’ve meant ‘of course. And their ghost will probably go a bit nuts and try and kill you. But it’s worth it. Yeah?’

As it turns out, the ghosts don’t want her dead. Yeah, they’ll show up in the background when she’s praying and go all ‘Labyrinth oubliette hands’ on her in a haunted corridor, but they’re actually after HELP not violence or scares. Just ghosts are clearly a bit crap at getting their message across.

The main focus of The Victim is on the death of beautiful celebrity Meen (Apasiri Nitibhon), an icon thought murdered by her husband. Everyone is convinced that he did it – what with finding a pool of her blood in his old flat – but Ting is less convinced. Why? Ghosts!

Ting is contacted by Meen’s troubled spirit and it’s clear she has a message and that message is ‘my husband didn’t fucking murder me!’.

Naturally the cops are sceptical of an obsessive young actress claiming a ghost told her their evidence is wrong. So – like all good plucky protagonists – Ting decides to start her own investigation, beginning with her prime suspect; Meen’s oldest, bestest friend in the world.

Not fantastically excited by this idea? Well, then good news, because at about 50 minutes into The Victim the film completely flips upside down and inside out. It jumps another level entirely and it’s refreshingly crazy. You literally won’t see it coming.

And then it gets even weirder…

The Victim is a slow-burning, creepy little horror from the writer / director of the (less good) The House (Monthon Arayangkoon). Strangely The Victim was actually written / directed a year before The House (2006 and 2007 respectively) so perhaps Arayangkoon is slowly getting worse…

Although far from perfect, The Victim at least has a coherent and compelling storyline and Pitchanart SakakornI is excellent as the sweet but obsessive Ting. The score is also very haunting and Arayangkoon is happy to splash blood about in copious amounts.

Much like in The House the scares in The Victim are weird and creepy and hugely chilling in places, but never actually terrifying. For a ghost story it is haunting but far from scary.

Clocking in at nearly 105 minutes, you need to commit to this slow-burning story from the beginning, because it is a very gradual movie that has its moments and is more concerned about character and plot than it is chills and scares. The mad flip at the midway point makes this special viewing, but it lacks a real punch to make this a classic.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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