4Bia by Exposure

As I arrived at the obscured pathway that led to my flat, I paused for a moment. It was a familiar sight. Chrome rubber asphalt marked a fitness corner to my right, to my left, a short row of dark green foliage shrubs thriving amongst bald patches of sand. Everything was bathed under the dull luminance of three white street lamps dissolving into the ochre of HDB foyer lighting. My hair stood on ends.

I can’t decide if it was the chill from the midnight breeze, or the reminiscence of what I’ve watched earlier. The quiet scene before me glowed eerily. The downstairs of my home suddenly looked disconcerting, like the set of a horror movie… like the setting of story one in the four-part Thai horror flick I just saw, 4Bia.

4Bia PosterFew horror shenanigans (I’ve seen a lot of, if not exclusively, horror movies) can find my creep gene but 4Bia made me realize I can still be spooked. The two-hour movie was made up of four different stories crafted by such Thai horror geniuses that gave us Shutter, Close and Body #19. While the four directing styles and subject focus were markedly different, the collection worked well in spanning across urban taboos and ancient superstitions.

My favorite was story one (and all my friends who are horror fans agreed) where the storytelling was masterful. It began slow, putting down your guard, making you think it’s another lame, unscary, boring reel-waster; but as the story progressed on, it just gets creepier. There weren’t any jack-out-of-the-box kind of scares (except for the concluding scene), but it frightens with the premise of something so commonly used turning awry. The story is simple, but it rings (no pun intended) so close to heart.

Story two was a bit jarring for me and the CGI weren’t that great but the last scene would be an optometrist nightmare. The director would have to be the one who produced Body #19 for the reliance on creature design and massive use of CGI was unmistakable. Body #19 was not much of a cinematic marvel but the design of its ‘ghost’, a pregnant-woman-type with writhing tentacles, was rather refreshing from the usual hair-affair Asian horror loves to feature. This story is a straight-laced scare-and-gore fare.

Story three is in a class of its own. It is unabashed about its imitation of ‘the twist at the end’ with a certain M. Night Shyamalan classic, while at the same time successfully juxtaposing tension with comic relief. It’s like an emotional 2-in-1… you laugh and scream at the same time.

The last story returns to the tradition of horror-making. There wasn’t much gore, no full-on sight of a ghost, minimal blood, but it works on the psychology of knowing that sh*t will happen, and then watching how it will happen. You know the protagonist is damned for and the thrill is in watching, and guessing, if what you thought will happen, will really occur on screen.

And so I took a deep breath, enjoyed the eeriness a while longer, and started down the cement path towards the lift. What silly articulations of my mind of the paranormal.

But as I rode the elevator from the first to level fifteen, I avoided looking out the small lift window that showed each passing floor. I didn’t want to see the same kid waving at me on all different floors.

I think I’ve developed a phobia by exposure.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shayan
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 17:07:33

    finally a horror movie that got to you!


  2. shayan
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 17:07:33

    finally a horror movie that got to you!


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