303: Fear Faith Revenge (1998) Movie Review

“303” is a film that is hardly original, and is in fact very reminiscent of American slasher films, even though at times it shows promise in the solid direction and excellent camerawork. Then again, despite the flashes of brilliance, this echo will never overcome the voice.

The film takes us to St. Georges’, a private Catholic boarding school. Touring the school’s Hall of Fame room, a group of students become fascinated with a picture of one student in particular. He is Prince Davodaung Sira, the only picture with only a nameplate and no listing of accomplishments or information on his life. Intrigued, the students form a fan club devoted to Sira and begin an investigation into who he was and why his name is never spoken.

They learn he was a former student who was only there for a short time before committing suicide. Clearly not thinking, the students hold a s’ance to contact him. What they encounter is an angry spirit who claims he was the victim of a murder. Soon, grotesque murders begin occurring, and the campus is thrown into a panic. Worse, a powerful storm has knocked out the phone lines and blocked the only road out. Trapped, the students must find the killer and in doing so, learn the truth about Prince Sira.

The most impressive thing about “303” is the artful direction of director Somching Srisupap. He seems to have studied in the David Fincher school of filmmaking, majoring in bleak visuals and minoring in foreboding atmosphere. He gives the film a beautiful and grim aura that is at times breathtaking to behold, not to mention enhancing the film with imaginative camera angles and well-placed lighting. He even manages to pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock with a unique “re-imagining” of the infamous shower scene from “Psycho”.

The cinematography by Taweesak Kumphati is also excellent, complementing the director’s ideas with gorgeous camerawork. The two men give the impression of working in tangent, and that work pays off onscreen. Unfortunately writer Cher Kori’s effort doesn’t come off quite as well. The script features enough scary scenes and gory deaths to keep horror fans happy, as well as managing a fairly good retelling of a concept that has begun to get tired to the point of dying from exhaustion. Kori even throws in an absorbing mystery, but he never develops the cast into individuals, and they all remain stock characters with predictable traits. As a result, you don’t care about the people being killed; you just wait and see who’s next.

Not that the cast does anything to help matters. The actors say their lines and hit their marks, but there’s no conviction or effort in any of the performances. That may be expected in the younger members of the cast, but the adults are guilty as well. They mainly come across as stiff and at times mildly disappointed that a killer has shown up to ruin their evening. It’s hard to feel any empathy towards these people; if they don’t seem overly concerned that they’re facing a bloody death, why should we?

“303” has the right ingredients and talent, but it nevertheless fails to come together fully onscreen. Fans of the horror and suspense genres should enjoy this offering from Thailand, but others may find better films made in the USA.

Somching Srisupap (director) / Cher Kori (screenplay)
CAST: Ananda Everingham …. Ghu
Artid Ryu …. Chaidan
Taya Rogers …. Numkang
Prinya Intachai …. Pongkhet
Paul Carey …. Traisoon

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