The Coffin (2008)

Description (from thecoffin-movie.com):
Inspired by a true Thai ritual of lying in coffins to get rid of bad luck and prolong life, The Coffin is a supernatural thriller about a young man and a young woman who decide to go through the ritual in Thailand. Chris, a claustrophobic architect does it in the hope of saving his fiancée who’s dying of terminal cancer. Sue, a nutritionist visiting Thailand from Hong Kong does it to save her own life after being diagnosed with a lethal brain tumor – one week before her wedding.
After the ritual, Chris and Sue experience what appear to be miracles in their respective lives. But soon, they find themselves confronted by a series of bizarre and terrifying incidents. With the help of a professor specializing in paranormal cases associated with the ritual, they set out to exorcise the ghosts and attempt to reverse the wheel of karma.  Thrilling, mysterious and ultimately moving, The Coffin is a spine-chilling horror about the beauty of life and death, and coming to face to face with living and dying.

Major Cast:
Karen Mok as Sue, Ananda Everingham as Chris, Aki Shibuya as Mariko, Andrew Lin as Jack, Suchao Pongwilai as The Undertaker, Micheal Pupart as Professor Thanachai, Florence Faivre as Sue’s Friend, Napakpapha Nakprasitte as May

Special Features:
None (Screener Copy)

Written and Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham

From the very beginning, it is apparent that THE COFFIN is a very well made film.  The video quality and sound quality are both top-notch, the camera is moved in ways that can only be accomplished with steadicams and cranes, the production values are amazing, and the effects are very well done.  Actually, I’m a bit concerned that THE COFFIN may be above the budget limit of this site; but as I could not find anything to confirm that, and making professional movies can be much less expensive in other countries, I am still going to review it.

THE COFFIN is the story of two people that undergo a Thai ritual to cleanse themselves of negativity, but like any quick fix there are repercussions to their choices.  This film could sit easily in the J-Horror/K-Horror genres (think RINGU or A TALE OF TWO SISTERS), except for the fact that it is set in Thailand and performed (mostly) in English.  There are a lot of familiar Asian supernatural tropes – the “dark-haired ghost” (except here she has no mouth, and that is really damned creepy), the revived lost lover, and the effects of karma – so as a fan of Asian horror this film feels familiar.  However, it is not just another JU-ON clone by any means.

Production-wise, as I mentioned before, THE COFFIN is very well done.  In addition to the aforementioned items, the composition of the shots are nice and interesting without being overly kinetic, the acting is (nearly) all high-caliber, and the script is constructed well.  I was impressed that the movie feels linear, and then later you come to realize that it truly is not presented that way at all, it wasn’t really a “twist” but it was a nice touch.  This is a horror film that relies more on suspense than gore to scare you, which I have always felt is the more effective route for a truly scary movie to take.

I did have a few issues with THE COFFIN.  First off, it’s too BLUE.  I’m not talking depressing (though it is at times), I mean the movie is really, really blue!  It’s almost as if it was shot through a blue filter.  I thought at first that the beginning was a flashback, and the blue tone of the movie was to signify that this was the past, and soon when we got to the present the color scheme would warm up… but, no.  Didn’t happen.  Pretty much the entire damned film was blue, and it did not take long at all for that to start annoying the crap out of me.  Secondly, the film is a bit confusing.  It may be the fact that it was a Korean/Thai/Singaporean production, and I am a very American viewer, but yeah it lost me on a few occasions.  Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, maybe it was just that cultural difference, but yeah… I got lost.

Overall, I felt that THE COFFIN was a solid entry into the Asian horror canon.  It effectively built suspense, it had a few good jump-scares that were not the norm and also not overused, it had an interesting premise and structure, and was extremely well made.  THE COFFIN did have its drawbacks as well (SO DAMNED BLUE!), but overall was an interesting movie that should satisfy any fan of Asian horror, or fans of supernatural stories in general.

Overall 6.5 / 10

THE COFFIN on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460749/

THE COFFIN for sale: http://www.shop.breakingglasspictures.com/The-Coffin-853937002742.htm

THE COFFIN site: http://www.thecoffin-movie.com/en/

Both the English and Thai Posters

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