2007 // Thailand // Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom // November 15, 2008 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Tivoli Theater)
I suppose it's flogging the obvious to suggest that the rhythms and aesthetic of contemporary Asian horror are way, way past their freshness date. The essential question that one has to ask about the Thai conjoined-twin chiller Alone, then, is whether it offers anything unexpected at all. The answer is a half-hearted affirmative, if only because writer-directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, for all their drifting in familiar gothic doldrums, have crafted a story with some novel, savage sucker-punches. Pim (Marsha Wattanapanich), the adult survivor of a pair of twins, returns to her family home, where menacing visions of her departed sister bedevil her dreams and waking hours alike. Alone's gruesome phantasms—applied in a mind-numbing and seemingly endless pattern of lull-shock-lull—are derivative, never truly scaring on a level beyond simplistic campfire jumpiness. The film's modest success rests on the cleverness of its narrative twists. Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom rely on hoary stagecraft to pull off their tricks—we watch a whirl of handkerchiefs while they pick our pockets—but it's a well-earned illusion, one that seems plucked from a superior installment of Night Gallery. On balance, it's just barely worth the musty wrapping paper.