The 8th Day is an attempt at film noir in black and white, which is not often seen by Thai audiences nowadays in this age of overwhelming color. The style and presentation attracted many people who prefer good and serious movies, although there are so many ghost or comedy and gay movies in Thailand and these movies make a lot of money—because Thai people, like people everywhere, want to watch some casual movies in order to distract themselves from the reality of political and economic problems.
The 8th Day is surely on the serious side. It could be categorized as a psychological thriller as it reflects horror and mystery in Thai society and examines the truth of cruelty. The young director, Chatchai Yodseranee, and his team spent two years of preparation and only 25 days of film production without a break. Yodseranee used to be in the advertising business and had a highly experienced and professional advisor, Kitisak Suwannaphokhin. His selection was a success when the feedback from the audience was surprisingly good.
This is a first Indy movie of this year from a small film company with a small scale of production and minimal marketing. The good thing about Indy production is the flexible workflow and more freedom of creativity with few obstacles but the bad thing is the lower income that any producer and his team do not wish to see but is inevitable. In my opinion, I saw that the makers of this film intended to overlook the gross income and focused on making a good film for audiences because they really loved and made the movie with heart and not only for the money.
Synopsis of the film: An old, lonely woman with amnesia “Aunt Choob” (performed by Vassana Chalakorn) invites a little girl into her house and locks the girl in there for a week, unintentionally. The parents of the girl are frantic in their search for her but an immoral medical student who had hidden intentions knew that both the old woman and the girl were perfect subjects for his psychological thesis and he tries to make the situation worse.
Surprisingly, the main cast of this movie has only three characters: an old woman, a girl and a medical student but they are blended together well in the film. The whole story is not out of place and not irrational but there are some flaws. I didn’t know if they were intentional. For example; when the girl disappears, Aunt Choob who lives near the crime scene is not questioned by the police or anyone else although people knew she was insane.
But when a story is this intense and serious, this type of inconsistency can be overlooked and accepted easily by audiences who love thriller movies. And this film is indeed a thriller.
The overall visual provides many shots that look like commercial ads because the team used to be in the advertising business. It is interesting but not purely cinematic. Some scenes were produced in the studio instead of a real house and in my opinion they weakened the realism and mood of the story.
The production design is quite effective—the created atmosphere is common in real-life situations but at the same time there are some strange and incompatible things in the house of Aunt Choob, such as old dolls used to express her sick and confused mental condition. It somehow works against the acting. The role of Aunt Choob might be easy to play but a good performer should put more life into an interesting lively character. She didn’t pretend to be crazy but she could show us the reasons and emotions of a crazy person realistically. She looked sick and felt guilt for some bad things in the past. Audiences do feel fear and pity for her at the same time as she is the crucial focus of the story.
The director told the press that he chose to shoot the film in black and white because it expresses and differentiates the “good” and the “bad” more effectively. But I thought that there were unclear moments in this film. A “bad” man might be a pitiful victim and a “good” man might be a real monster. Many transitions clouded our vision and sometimes we didn’t know for sure who is the victim or who is the villain.
Nevertheless, The 8th Day is a good film, a thriller that nearly achieves the powerful melieu of film noir and successfully justifies its use of the black and white medium. We look forward to this director’s and his team’s next venture.