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 Kietthanakorn (Rajit)
Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Year: 2002

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.

Sririta and Chulachak
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.
Paula Taylor

The Thai DVD has English subtitles and has an excellent transfer.

My rating for this films: 6.0