Friday, December 20, 2013

Film Review: Art of the Devil 2 (2005)

Art of the Devil 2 (Review)
Thailand/2005
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"The gore and violence is turned up a notch..."

An abusive, cheating teacher, Aajaan Panor (Napakpapha Nakprasitte), is exposed and humiliated by a group of students. Years later, this young group of friends return home on break to brutal revenge...

Art of the Devil 2 follows this group of friends as they take a break from school and reconnect at their old home. They visit their old teacher, Panor, oblivious of her intentions. Eventually, they begin to have odd experiences -- seeing ghostly figures and such. They see and feel unnatural things at the home and contemplate leaving. After a gruesome reveal of her intentions, the friends attempt to survive Panor's rampage, as well as try to find out why. Although it has a few confusing moments, Art of the Devil 2 leads up to a disturbing finale with a great twist ending.

The storytelling is often difficult to follow. There are many flashbacks, and concurrent events you have to keep track of and it can be hassle due to the sloppy storytelling. Also, this installment, like the last, doesn't explain the black magic, which leaves a few unanswered questions. The characters and their motives, or hypocritical motives, may also bother some audiences. You see, Panor isn't the type of character you'd root for -- she's an abusive stepmother and cheating wife who wants revenge because she was caught and punished. The kids she's getting revenge on were actually getting revenge on her and her secret lover because of the physical and sexual abuse they endured. Then, this group of friends aren't as likable as they may seem when most of their original actions and intentions are revealed. Maybe that's point, though: maybe, the art of the devil is their inner demons. Regardless, you night not like it if you can't stand these type of characters.

The horror and story is much more focused this time around, though. The story that is told is interesting and moves at a great pace, and the ending is great; its storytelling may be confusing, but it's much tighter than the previous installment. The horror consists of some solid jump-scares and suspense. There are also some spooky visuals -- one character is forced to see some creepy ghosts as her punishment, which leads to some eye-gouging. The gore and violence is turned up a notch with some vicious kills and brutal torture. The type of stuff I wish more technologically advanced films like Evil Dead (2013) would show to push the genre.

The acting is good from the entire cast. However, Napakpapha Nakprasitte shines with a sinister performance for the books -- not only is she stunningly beautiful, she's perfect at playing evil with the tone of her voice, the look in her eyes, and her body movements. The music is also great, it fits the setting well and sets an ominous mood. The film is show well enough, it's never to dark or bright. The direction is much tighter and consistent, as is the writing; however, one can expect much when you have a team of seven, known as the Ronin Team, working on the film.

Overall, Art of the Devil 2 is a very good Thai horror film. The story is immersive and interesting, despite the lack of detail on black magic, and the horror is wide-ranged -- you've got jump-scares, suspense, spooky figures, and disturbing visuals all in one. This is a great improvement over the last installment.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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