Thai writer-directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom have shot to prominence in the horror genre with their debut movie Shutter, which I had regrettably missed its theatrical run here, but more than made up for it by being the proud owner of the (now autographed) DVD. In my opinion, having mustered up enough courage to sit through horror movies now (and find them really enjoyable, at times comedic though), I've shuddered at some of this genre's movies which keep on harping on the same thing, and got dumbed down by weak execution. Not Shutter, and definitely not Alone.
If you think Banjong and Parkpoom are one hit wonders with their debut movie, then Alone will prove you wrong. Despite having counted on the usual lighting and shadow techniques, quick cut surprises and scares, and the pristine, well-crafted sound effects, it demonstrated that as long as you deliver the product with great technical skill and respect for the medium, it'll still be as enjoyable as watching it all for the very first time. Having a storyline which engages helps as well, and here the duo still seemed to have a thing or two for old photographs, this time showing the subject material of siamese twins, although not as grotesque as those shown in the Alone trailers.
While the storyline isn't really that original, with the surviving siamese twin having to encounter the supernatural return of her deceased other, and if you look closely enough there are adequate hints of the revelatory twist to come, what mattered was how the subject again was being introduced and crafted, how tension and suspense were met out, and how easy it is to spook audiences when all the ingredients turn out right. Despite having some premise set up for the obvious, I was still taken aback at one of the scenes, and it is this constant sense of what's coming, and the expected delivery, which will easily make this a successful spook film for the mass audience.
The duo had got the male heartthrob Ananda Everingham lead in their previous movie, and now the opportunity is given to the female gender - the beautiful and very photogenic Masha Wattanapanich, who plays the siamese twins Pim and Ploy. Starring opposite them in a Natthaweeranuch Thongmee kinda role, is Vittaya Wasukraipaisan as Wee, Pim's boyfriend. As Pim's mother (Ratchanoo Bunchootwong) is suddenly taken ill back in Thailand, the duo have to leave their careers in Korea, and journey back to the homeland, where the unexpected starts to happen. Pim's encounters with who she presumes is Ploy led to Wee thinking that she needs psychiatric help, but slowly, he too gets drawn into the web of supernatural intrigue.
And in all earnestness, I'd say Masha had nailed her role to a fitting T. Given that Pim and Ploy's characters are key to the movie, she managed to bring out the vast differences in the character of the two sisters (of course the teenage actresses who played the younger versions also helped loads). In shedding light onto the ongoing mystery, the expected blast from the past recollection and flashback helped provide a certain richness to the entire backstory for all the characters, and in doing so, played on a common theme, one that at times I like to ponder upon - which I cannot elaborate further other than saying, is ignorance sometimes bliss, and can you live a lie?
Alone is excellent stuff, even though the horrific moments might come few and far between, and there possibly was a sub-genre shift in the last 10 minutes or so. Nonetheless its numerous strengths easily outweigh the minute weaknesses, and in having delivered a superbly crafted tried-and-tested story, this could easily be a hit at the box office. Recommended for all you people out there who are itching for a good scare!