Originally released in 2006, Thai film The Victim finally gets a UK DVD release. Directed by Monthon Arayangkoon, whose work includes Garuda and The House, we begin the story via an introduction to a budding actress by the name of Ting. Ting manages to land an acting job as the victim in crime recreations that would appear on TV and in newspapers. This is something the Thai police force actually employs to make it known that a murderer or rapist has been brought to justice. The scenes where Ting recreates being raped or murdered are actually rather haunting to experience, and newspaper clippings and photos of the real victims accompany Tings convincing performances. After portraying one of the victims, Ting says a prayer so as not to distress the soul of the dead – while she prays, a ghost of the dead individual can be seen close by.
Ting then gets her big break - after her popularity grows she gets the opportunity to portray a former Miss Thailand by the name of Min. If she wasn’t already obsessive about her work, she certainly is now. Her obsessive nature reaches new levels when she begins to watch old footage of Min, practising both walking and talking like Min until she can get every detail perfect for her role.
Aside from the obvious scare of seeing the spirits of the dead, events lead to Min influencing Ting’s dreams about her murderer. The thing that really managed to put me on the edge of my seat here is Ting’s unnatural conviction and obsessive nature over the roles that she portrays. Ting even goes to visit the scene of the crime before a big shoot. Where Min’s body was found in the bath, even Ting goes to the trouble to laying in it - it’s a great scene which builds tension and fear, as well as being a great demonstration of the lengths that Ting will go to.
Just as Ting gets close to the real killer with the help of Min’s spirit, the film gets turned on its head and throws a huge curveball to the audience which took some fumbling for me to finally make sense of. Not that it is particularly confusing per se, but the change in plot literally comes out of nowhere! I call it a plot change rather than a plot twist as I don’t think it deserves the title of a great plot twist, but it does deserve to be mentioned as an interesting switch. It’s certainly a brave one too, although my main criticism is that I really don’t know why they chose to add this to the film. It feels as though they were beginning to lose mileage with their current narrative and they added this to spice up the film. This leads me onto my main problem with the movie - it loses value so quickly. I won’t reveal exactly what happens, but even with the plot change as the film comes to a close it still feels like it was starting to lack the ability to hold your attention in the way the first half of the film does.
The film looks great and does a very good job at building tension throughout the film. The choice of location for all of the early murder scenes are really something to marvel and applaud at, as they were all shot at locations where real life tragedies had taken place. This just aids in giving these already disturbing moments in the film some real substance.
It’s sad to think that the creators needed to rely on such a turn of events, when in the end that changing up of the story doesn’t really take off and leaves you feeling disappointed. The length of the film is the real salt in the wound with this film; after investing so much time you come away feeling like you’ve not gotten your money’s worth. Aside from a few decent scenes and a great first half, you’ll find yourself feeling like you’ve seen this film, or at least something of its ilk, before. If you’re a big fan of foreign horror films though, it’s certainly worth a look.