Lhorn (aka Soul, 2003) Movie Review

If you were looking for a horror movie to scare you, the Thai film “Lhorn” will disappoint. It’s not very scary, even though it tells multiple tales about ghosts and demons taking revenge on us weakling mortals. As executed for consumption, the stories are somewhat tame, and the only real interesting thing about them is that each story takes place in a different part of the Thai countryside, meaning we get to hear a number of indigenous accents. This last part is twice the fun if you happen to know the Thai language even a little bit. If you don’t, they’ll no doubt sound the same.

“Lhorn” opens with a group of modern day teenagers arriving at a house in the countryside. The house, we learn, belongs to the parents of one of the kids, who then decide to bring his friends along to do something with the house. On their first night at the house, the bookworm of the group tells them stories about ghosts that are said to reside in different parts of the countryside. It’s campfire tales, Thai style. Except there isn’t a campfire, and these guys are much too old to be just sitting around reading from a book.

But I digress.

The first story involves a “paup”, a supernatural demon-ish thing that goes around eating the livers of its victims in a rural town. The second tale centers on a sexy ghost that resides in a banana field, and takes her evil delights on a young student who just moved into a nearby house. Up next is the tale of a man possessed by a demon spirit that turns him into a monster at night. The final story is also the shortest of the bunch, but it has the distinction of tying itself into the modern day teenagers that are telling the tale.

“Lhorn” of course falls into the genre of horror anthology. Much of it deals with reincarnation and karma, which isn’t a surprise if you know Thai culture. The Thais are a tad obsessed with reincarnation, since this abstract concept is the heart and soul of Buddhism. All four tales have to do with ghostly retribution and karma payback, with the central theme being that mortals know not what they do, much to their detriment. Some of the stories are more interesting than others, but what they all have in common is that they’re short and won’t scare anyone, which isn’t a good thing for a horror anthology.

Except for the fourth tale, the first three are really self-contain episodes, with the second story being the best of the bunch. Of the four, the student’s lustful tale is probably the most vibrant in terms of story and cinematography, with the use of light being quite good. The fourth story offers up the film’s Big Reveal, as it ties itself back to the storytellers. Alas, the whole thing is so rushed one wonders why the third tale wasn’t excised from the script, thus saving the remaining 40 minutes to weave the events of the fourth tale and its effects on the main characters. Instead, the film’s climactic Big Reveal is rushed through in less than 20 minutes, and as a result it’s jumbled and convoluted the point where the audience will no doubt stop caring to try to figure it out.

The acting in “Lhorn” ranges from amateurish to somewhat amateurish. Of all the Asian movie industries currently churning out product, the Thais have the unenviable distinction of producing the least talented crop of actors. Their movies are generally badly acted, and more often than not it seems as if “casting” basically consists of the filmmakers asking anyone in the vicinity if they want to be in the movie. This is especially true of films that take place in the countryside.

Although one shouldn’t expect too much from the actors in “Lhorn”, it’s probably enough that they don’t completely embarrass themselves, even if some comes dangerously close. According to the end credits, most of the cast got to play more than one part, but in all honesty I couldn’t tell you who was who in the different incarnations. All the girls in the movie seem to look alike, and the boys didn’t exactly distinguish themselves either.

As a horror anthology, “Lhorn” isn’t that bad, although there is absolutely nothing exceptional about it. In fact, I’m reminded of the Japanese anthology “Tales of the Unusual”, which featured a horror story that, alone, is scarier than all the four tales of “Lhorn” combined.

Arphichard Phopairoj (director) / Arphichard Phopairoj (screenplay)
CAST: Wannasa Thongwiset …. Manao

Buy Lhorn on DVD