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Movie Review: The Victim

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I've seen some questionable "police" procedures in the movies, but nothing quite like what the authorities in the Thai horror film The Victim do with high-profile murder suspects. They hire actresses to play the unfortunate murder victims, bring the suspects to the scene of the alleged crimes, and get them to act out what happened in front of the media, the police, and crowds of curious onlookers. It's always interesting to see how they do things in exotic parts of the world, isn't it?

In The Victim, one aspiring actress gets her big break in this fashion, and she turns out to be pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that she makes it into the Thai tabloids and even gets a shot at a soap opera role. Oh, yeah, she is also visited by the spirits of the dead victims she portrays, who try to tell her how they really died.

And then, halfway through the film, there's a major, unexpected twist that completely turns the story on its ear. I will not give it away, but it makes the implausible plot developments up to that point make a certain amount of sense. More importantly, it makes The Victim, which had been quite slowly paced up to that point, much more effective and unnerving.

Writer-director Monthon Arayangkoon based several of the crimes re-enacted in The Victim on actual cases from Thailand, and even filmed many of them on the actual locations. Exploitative, to say the least, but it adds an additional layer of sheer creepiness to his film. The Victim looks terrific, as well, with ghosts and spirits "mysteriously" appearing before the sharp-eyed viewer. (The closing credits, of course, imply that this wasn't intended by the filmmakers.)

The Victim is also very confusing, especially – and unfortunately – at the end. To be honest, I'm still not quite sure what happened, and the subtitles – seemingly written by someone whose first language wasn't English – didn't help matters. The Victim was very successful in Thailand, and Hollywood is undoubtedly considering the remake possibilities. This might be one case where they probably should dumb down the material.

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