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3.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 June 2011
A flat and monotonous horror. The basic story is a reality big brother type show set in a former prison camp where a massacre of thousands had taken place by the meglomaniac and despotic Comrade Jium, modelled in entirety on the activities of the Khymer Rouge. The contestants have to last longer then their compatriots to win the cash prize within this enviroment.
There's a lot of talk about areas of the camp which haven't been entered for years despite the copious amount of high-tec and surveillance equipment littering these places; there is barely any characterisation evident in this film, it jumps from person to person to person. It's worst fault for me though was that it essentially has only one scenario for 90% of its running time which it continually repeats with small variations. Contestant sees ghost standing there and freaks out, crew watching on monitor can't see anything or others in his/her company likewise cant see anything. Person eventually stops screaming and assures everyone they're alright, everyone goes for a rest and so repeat said scene again the next night and so on. Only exceptions are the ludicrous scenes of people being stretchered out of the show screaming and deranged with Producers whooping and filming their mental disintegration.
Every few minutes there's a ghost loittering about, if you got a fright the first time you'll be blase by the eigth appearance.
Despite the massacre and the social and historical importance of this site nothing has been removed so there's thousands of victims skulls, remains etc lying around as well as records, documents etc for them all to paw and play with.
Ok so it has some killings towards the end but it's not worth the trudge, gratifying as it may be to have the unsubtle declaration that the makers had decided they'd best end it somehow. I hated this but it's worth 2 stars for an idea woefully mishandled.
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When you think Asian horror, Thailand is not one of the countries that immediately comes to mind - but that may change if Thai filmmakers put out a few more films as tense and creepy as Sarawut Wichiensarn's Laa-thaa-phii (or Ghost Game). I've read some reviews that dismiss this film as boring and a bit too spectre-happy, and I have to wonder what is wrong with these people's minds. Honestly, this really is one of the most atmospheric and darkly titillating films I've seen in some time. There's no way of easing your away into this story - it freaking jumps out and latches on to you from the very start with all of the gory details of a brutal war camp that played host to a massacre of unimaginable proportions. Back in 1986, Comrade Jium, a separatist leader, seized control of Camp Case 17 on his home island of Krujaba, had all of the government soldiers there killed, took 10,000 island inhabitants hostage, then massacred the whole lot of them when the government refused to negotiate with him. We then see amateur footage of several men coming to the island and dying mysteriously about the time the camp was set to open as a Cambodian war memorial. With the juicy stories floating around of Jium killing anyone who sets foot in Camp Case 17, the long-abandoned site seems to be the ideal venue for the extreme reality show Ghost Game.

Eleven young men and women are transported to the island and locked inside the camp, each of them vying for the prize of 5 million Baht (about $US 130,000) that will go the person who lasts the longest without quitting or losing their marbles. The production crew has already set up a series of dares for the contestants, but they needn't have bothered because Camp Case 17 is extremely haunted, and the ghosts aren't shy about making their presence known. Forcing contestants to reenact the scenarios under which so many people died - aggressively taunting the dark spirits of the dead - definitely makes for great television, though. The place is scary enough without being strapped in to a chair, blindfolded, and left alone; forced to endure a lonely water torture vigil; or compelled to bed down on a mattress of human skulls. Personally, I would have quit as soon as the dude giving the contest-opening prayer for protection wigged out. Of course, the contestants come in with different mindsets. A few of them don't believe in ghosts and think all of the horrors to come will be faked by the television crew, and more than one of them are suspicious of last year's winners being included in the cast. That doesn't keep them from being wheeled out of the camp strapped down on gurneys, screaming and crying in abject terror, though - and those are actually the lucky ones. And do you want to know the best part? Just because they've left the game doesn't mean the game has left them.

But wait - the appeal of this dark film doesn't stop with the plot itself. Laa-thaa-phii also brings quite a controversial history to the table. Despite the whole "this is fiction" preamble to the film, the story of the Camp Case 17 massacre of 10,000 innocent civilians has obvious parallels to the very real and truly horrific crimes of mass murder committed by the Khymer Rouge at Toul Sieng prison, so it's no surprise that the film was banned in Cambodia. In today's ridiculously PC world, some people actually condemn Laa-thaa-phii as "historically insensitive," but don't even get me started on that. If nothing else, the controversy allows the film to bill itself as "one of the most controversial horror movies ever made," which should do nothing but help DVD sales. It's also interesting to note that the cast is made up of actual contestants from Academy Fantasia, which is sort of the Thai equivalent of American Idol. Don't worry about the acting skills of these guys and gals, though - they are quite good (and their screaming skills are right up there with the best). Slap yourself if thoughts of From Justin to Kelly just popped into your mind, for there can be no comparison of any kind between these two films.

Finally, just let me say that - unlike what you'll find in certain other Thai films -- the special effects in Laa-thaa-phii are quite good. While the spirits of the dead may pop up a little too often for some professional reviewers' tastes, those appearances (ranging from the subtle to the reach-out-and-grab-you kind) are always impressive - especially the spectres of Lin, a female prisoner whose story serves as a sort of focal point for all of the early ghostly activity, and the infamous Comrade Jium. The subtitles also seem to be more than acceptable, although Mr. Subtitle Guy did seem to take a short break during one fairly important scene, much to my frustration. That's the only criticism I have for the film, though. For the life of me, I really can't see how any horror fan wouldn't enjoy every dark and suspenseful moment of the Laa-thaa-phii experience.
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on 7 March 2013
Very disappointed with that dvd, the story is ok but the acting and dialogues are very poor and so is the quality, did not finish watching it. It's a waste of money so don't buy it.
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on 21 October 2010
A notorious Khmer Rouge Prison camp called Case 17, after an unsuccesful attempt to re-open it as a memorial to those who were massacred there by Commander Jiem, is now to play host to Thai reality show 'Ghost Game' a sort of cross between Big Brother and Most Haunted, where the contestant who stays the longest in the 'haunted' house wins a huge cash prize. Along with nine new contestants, last years winner and runner-up, Dao and Yuth, are taking part again. When strange things start to happen in the Camp, some of the other contestants blame Dao and Yuth, thinking that wanting to win again, they are trying to scare the opposition. However, the anniversary of the genocide in Case 17 is approaching, just as the producers of 'Ghost Game' decide to play a game in the dungeons of the prison camp. Commander Jiem would be proud of them...
I enjoyed this Thai horror film. It hardly breaks new ground being a sort of cross between 'My Little Eye' and 'Session 9'. It doesn't quite have the cloying, claustrophobic feel of the latter, but it still has its fair share of little scares. Of course, the massacres perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge were very real so the parralels between the fictional horror shown here and the real horrors of the past is a little uncomfortable.
I thought that the ending was the strongest part of the film, once the bravado dissappears from even the most cocky of the contestants, when they realise that the show isn't being run by the producers any more, but by the very real ghosts of Camp Case 17. It does seem a little insensitive that the television channel wouldn't pull the plug on the show once the contestants start to be carried off the set on strtchers, but I guess the ratings are the be all and end all.
Not a real classic like fellow Thai horror 'Shutter', this film is still well worth investing in as it's an interesting if derivative little horror. I enjoyed it anyway. 4 out of 5
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on 27 October 2011
You would think that the plot would fairly predictable by now. Money/fame grabbing young people trapped together until one or none survive. This is not the case, Most charecters are well acted and there is a dark undercurrent without relying on cheap shocks and gore!
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on 2 June 2009
Eastern cinema has much to recommend it, and in recent years has turned out some of the best examples of the horror genre that I can think of, such as the Grudge, the Host, a Tale of Two Sisters and so on. However, Ghost Game just goes to show that Eastern cinema can produce a miss every now and again.
The story, set in Thailand, revolves around an extreme reality TV show known as...Ghost Game, a show designed to manipulate its participants with a series of ever more extreme tests. For this season's game, the shows producers have chosen a notorious prison camp known as Case 17, situated on an island, which was the scene of a brutal massacre many years ago when a revolutionary leader known as Comrade Jium massacred everyone inside the camp when facing defeat by government forces. Since then, the camp has become a memorial to the dead, but rumours abound that the place is haunted, both by the spirits of the dead victims, and by Comrade Jium himself. Enter the contestants, 11 young men and women each hoping to be the one that takes home the cash prize, all they have to do is outlast the other contestants during the ever more extreme tests. Needless to say, the shows producers have set up a series of tests designed to stretch the contestant's nerves, but gradually something altogether more unpleasant begins to make its presence felt, and it becomes a battle just for the contestants to maintain their sanity.
The premise of the film is really rather neat, but unfortunately the film as a whole doesn't really live up to your expectations. The spirits that inhabit the camp are revealed far to early on in the film, robbing the proceedings of any kind of "is the place haunted or is it just part of the game" tension, and are then used at every available opportunity, such that they are robbed of any sort of horrific effect. The film looks stylish but unfortunately the editing process seems to have rendered a lot of the attempts at genuine tension rather flat, and the dialogue is not great either (but that could be the subtitles, maybe it works better in Thai).
Directed by Sarawut Wichiensarn and featuring a group of contestants from an actual Thai game show playing the films contestants, the actors do their best, but they all seem somewhat stereotypical (the sceptic, the vain one, the tough guy, the joker, the bookish one, the one with something to hide, and so on and so forth) and its hard to care what happens to them when the spirits do start to make their feelings known. Coupled with this, no matter how much the films producers claim that it is a work of fiction, several aspects of the films setting bear uncanny (deliberate?) parallels with the rule of the Kyhmer Rouge in neighbouring Cambodia, and that just seems a little insensitive. All in all, a horror film that fails in its attempts to be horrific.
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on 29 June 2015
Much better than I had expected to be honest. And has some genuinely scary scenes which would put many modern day Asian horrors to shame.
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on 28 September 2011
i love japanese horror films as theyre not just simple thriller films but this film was very boring it was like watching big brother with all the bordeom of it for all the film minus 10minutes at the end where it changes to a thriller film that wasnt even any good, the storyline when i read it sounded fantastic but imagine that storyline dulled down to the max and for the actors to be as bad as amatuers they picked up off the street, but i suppose the film kept me interested enough to watch it all and its definatly more entertaining than daytime tv but there are so many better films out there, if you want to spend your money id recommend another cheap film
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on 16 January 2012
a very very spooky film about a large empty building with young adults inside playing a game of staying alive in a game show it really is a spooky film if your into abandoned buildings then this one is for you
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on 27 October 2008
Ahh, ever though about stuffing the annoying big brother gangs in a terrifying old prison camp and see how scared you can make them? (Oh I have, countless times). Well this Thai movie is definately for you.
With the promise of 1 million Baht, 11 contestants set out to withstand the scares and walk away with easy money. It becomes a problem when contestants cannot tell what's a set-up and what's real...
Swaying away from obvious formats, this movie uses the strong and very individual characterisation to build tension easily within the group. All they have to do is stay in the camp to win. Easier said than done when even the organisers are starting to wonder why the participants are acting so much more scared than they ever planned. This is a live show after all, they don't want it to end too quickly.
If you want to watch it more than twice it must be good...
I love ghost movies, and this is definately a keeper.
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