When Pim’s mother falls fatally ill, she is forced to return to Thailand from Korea to oversee her care. Along with her is her Thai boyfriend Wee. Pim (Masha Wattanapanich), who is the sole survivor of conjoined twins, is thrown face first into her old life as both painful and beautiful memories resurface when she and Wee move into her old house. In Pim’s old room, her and her sister Ploy’s clothes still hang, each set lovingly hand-sewed together by their mother.
But Pim’s return brings back not just distant memories, but it seems as if Ploy’s spirit has also returned to seek revenge against Pim. But Pim is the only one who has seen the face of Ploy in mirrors and reflections, and Wee believes that it is merely stress which are bringing upon these hallucinations. Pim visits Wee’s psychologist friend, who comes to the same conclusion as Wee, but with Pim’s visions become more frequent and more violent, she is utterly convinced that Ploy is after her. Has Ploy truly returned from the dead, or is Pim merely falling down a spiral staircase of madness?
Thai horror, with the exception of the Pang Brothers output, and Thai cinema overall, has widely been overlooked save for the most dedicated of Asian cinemaphiles during the East Asia import explosion of the past ten or so years. In 2004, a pair of Thai writers and directors, Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, brought their widely acclaimed debut Shutter to the Asian horror community. With their sophomore title Alone, the duo seek to show that Thailand has a host of unknown talent and films just waiting to be discovered.
Keeping in their comfort zone with their abilities to play with shadows and reflections, the duo adds to the mix the love, jealousy, and connection that can only be felt by sisters. With Brian DePalma‘s classic Sisters and the 2003 art-horror A Tale Of Two Sisters from Korea already stellar cinematic examples of these themes, Alone has some tough competition to work against in order to get its proper due.
Fortunately, the writer/director pair has brought to the screen another successful antithesis to the “long hair ghost” clones that have been haunting theatres ever since the international success of Japan’s Ringu. Here, the pair play up the suspense pieces and spill black-drenched nights across most of the film. They also quite successfully tap into the “is there really a ghost?” guessing game. The visions of Ploy always happen when Pim is alone where her thoughts and guilty conscious weigh heavily on her most. Even as the film builds into the final moments, the viewer can still arguably stay on either side of haunting fence.
At the heart of the film though, is an emotional core of sisterhood bonding, and more specifically the psychological bonding of conjoined twins who have spent fifteen years at each others side doing and sharing everything. Through well-paced flashbacks and visualized memories, we watch Pim and Ploy grow up and are exposed to the strongest and weakest moments of their relationship together and with others around them. This examination gives Alone an added depth, and often times is more of a tragic character study than the spooky horror it’s selling itself as. The final result is a film that is trying very hard to set itself out from the herd, and directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, who now have two movies well worth seeking out, are quickly becoming a duo that when you see their name attached to a project you know you’re going to get a quality-made scare!
Newly created 24 Frames Xtreme has picked up the North American distribution rights to Alone as their first title, though there is currently no word as to when a theatrical or DVD release will be hitting the U.S.