999-9999 (999-9999 Dat Dor Dai)
Director: Peter Manus
Stars: Chulachak Chakrabongse (Sun), Sririta
Jensen (Rainbow), Paula Taylor (Meena), Thepparit Raiwin (Ar-Chee), Thitinun
Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Don't call the number. Don't pick up the phone.
Like at Alice's Restaurant you can get anything you want, but the bill
is much too high to pay. This horror film from Thailand combines the most
popular recent trends from both Asia and the United States - the technology
kills aspect of The Ring and The Phone and the teenage "and then there
were none" aspects of the Scream series. What's rather intriguing about
this film is that you could watch it - and other than the language - you
would barely know this was a Thai film taking place in Thailand. The surroundings
look very much upper middle class American suburbia as does the architecture
as do the actors. This could play at a local multiplex with some good dubbing
and no one in the audience would have a clue. I read an article recently
that the latest fad in Thailand is the popularity of "Luk Kruengs" or half
Thai/half falang in films, TV and modeling. Three of the main cast here
fit into this category - Chulachak and Paula are half Thai and half English
and Sririta is half Dutch.
A group of students who call themselves the Daredevils
learn that a new girl (Sririta) was previously in a school in Ching-mai
where a student had been found impaled on the flag pole. They question
her about this and she reluctantly tells them that it has to do with a
phone number - 999-9999. If you call this number after midnight she tells
them, you can request anything you want and it will come true - but death
will soon make a return call. Of course they all think this is nonsense
and call up jokingly and one of them gets through and asks for a Ferrari.
The next day he accidentally wins one - coincidence or not? - but the second
part of the deal soon comes true as well with an army of scorpions
and a very deadly car wash combining to make mincemeat of him. One might
think this would deter the others - but they only focus on the first part
of the bargain and start dialing 999-9999 as well and asking for their
dream to come true. The film seems to be poking fun at a very materialistic
Thai upper class that has lost its values of hard work and it's parental
responsibilities (this is a completely parentless world the film depicts).
The production values of the film are really first
rate - very well filmed and great color schemes - it really could play
at your local multiplex - but the film itself is a real mishmash of good
and very bad. The deaths are wonderfully staged and quite clever - a few
of them had me chortling and horrified at the same time. The final twenty
minutes of the film is also quite tense and well done as the remaining
few try and solve this mystery before their phone rings and I found myself
being a bit surprised (and delighted) at the ending. There is though a
whole other part of the film that is very bad - idiotic humor around a
fat guy who wants to join the group, fart jokes, poor group dynamics, bad
dialogue, mediocre acting from some and a few truly annoying characters.
Of course this makes watching them go to their deaths in gruesome style
a bit more rewarding! Still, for those into the Scream/Saw You Last Summer
genre, this isn't a bad imitation until the next Scream comes out.
The Thai DVD has English subtitles and has
an excellent transfer.
My rating for this films: 6.0