Horror served Thai style

When Sentosa Leisure Management was planning its Halloween event Sentosa Spooktacular last year, it turned to a few Thai film-makers to helm its scares.

It made perfect sense. Since the success of 2004 Thai horror flick Shutter at the box office here, more of the country's horror movies have invaded Singapore's screens and made moviegoers here toss and turn restlessly in their beds.

There are seven Thai horror movies pencilled in for release this year or already released. Next up on April 24 is She Devil, about a man who discovers that his wife is the titular ghoul.

Shutter remains one of the top-grossing Thai films of all time in Singapore with $1.3 million, second only to the Singapore-Thailand co-production The Coffin (2008), which grossed $1.35 million.

Distributor and exhibitor Golden Village had four titles last year and has about five planned for this year. On average, they earn about $200,000 each. It might not seem like a lot, but a spokesman for Golden Village says they are "generally profitable".

On the appeal of Thai horror flicks, she notes: "Thai film-makers are incredibly creative storytellers. Their culture is one where the supernatural and superstition is part and parcel of everyday life."

Indeed, as a producer, Mr Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, 46, senior director of major Thai film studio GMM Tai Hub's international business department, shares that the projects which interest him are the ones that are rooted in the familiar.

Mr Yongyoot, an adviser to Sentosa Spooktacular last year, says that what he likes is "something that is very common, like daily, with a supernatural twist to it". Such as photographs which capture unexplained images in Shutter.

If you have a fear of the dark and small, enclosed places, stay away from Shutter - it makes even photographers pause before entering the dark room.

Co-director and co-writer of Shutter, Banjong Pisanthanakun, 34, tells Life! that he finds inspiration from things around him. "I saw a very old photo and thought it was very scary. It reminded me of spiritual photography and I got the concept from there."

He clarifies, though: "There was no ghost in it."

After Shutter came the likes of Alone (2007) by Parkpoom Wongpoom, 35, who also co-directed and co-wrote Shutter. In addition, Body (2007) by Paween Purijitpanya, 35, Coming Soon (2008) by Sophon Sakdaphisit, 33, and Dorm (2006) by Songyos Sugmakanan, 40, all took a stab at scaring audiences here.

Life! caught up with the film-makers when they were here for Sentosa Spooktacular. As the event was such a success last year, this year's edition will again incorporate elements from Thai horror. Sentosa saw a 30 per cent increase in ticket sales last year compared to 2012.

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