Body Jumper (2002)

Directed by
Entertaining horror-comedy
Reviewed by Simon on 2012-05-25

It's a Teen Thai Horror Comedy, unashamedly modelled after the recent slew of horror-spoofs that have been popular in Hollywood in recent years. I can't say I've ever actually watched one of those Hollywood movies, but I've seen enough trailers and clips to recognise their influence in Pbob. Unless the Hollywood efforts are very much better than I believe is likely, I would say the Thai effort is at least their equal though.

Everybody knows that when somebody from Hong Kong visits Thailand, they're going to come back with supernatural agents on their tail. What hope, then, for those that live in Thailand! Apparently the phenomenon only applies to rural areas though, as the bus full of Seoul school kids in the movie don't seem to have had any supernatural problems prior to their trip to a small backwater village (to teach healthy living through exercise apparently, to these villagers who all seem to be knocking on triple figure ages already). Whilst spying on a young and ridiculously gorgeous classmate of theirs bathing in a river, a group of the boys unwittingly unleash the spirit of Pbob, the liver-hungry ghost - which promptly takes up home in the frighteningly attractive body of said classmate. Back in Seoul, the classmate turns from shy angel to disgustingly sexy man-eating vamp. When a series of boys turn up dead with their livers missing, one of the boys realises that she really is man-eating, and recalls the warning a villager gave about Pbob. It's up to him, and eventually the friends he can persuade of the truth, to stop her - preferably not dying in the attempt.

Well, that's the plot, but I recount it only because I find it interesting. It doesn't really give a good idea of the movie, which is mostly very very silly with a strong love for bodily function humour and sexual humour. Here, the horror is not so much the thought of having your liver eaten by a ghost as of dying a virgin. If it were an American movie I would doubtless hate it for being shallow and crude, and silly, but I'm more forgiving of a Thai movie that at least didn't cost $20 million and buy swimming pools for a dozen lawyers and studio execs. It takes a lot more effort and dedication to pull off a silly horror comedy in Thailand, where the entire country probably doesn't have the budget of a Hollywood studio, so I respect it a lot more. Or I'm a hypocrite, whichever .

Whatever the explanation, I did find myself enjoying Pbob a lot after a slightly reluctant start. It's not a deep movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a good romp with great production values. The characters have zero depth, but all look very young and beautiful... especially the girl who becomes Pbob's host, if you hadn't picked that detail up yet. The director obviously noticed her physical exceptionalness too, and exploits it to the max. Even though Pbob is a 'body jumper', she quite wisely stays in this one body for the majority of the movie - clearly she knows she not going to find better soon . I'd happily have swapped places with some of the liver-deprived young chaps she seduces and devours, frankly! The beauty of the host makes it all the more traumatic when Pbob's demonic side takes control - quite genuinely creepy and disturbing and monstrous. Not quite as traumatic as seeing Sadako crawl out of a tv, but Pbob's face still wouldn't get out of my head for some hours after the movie, and I didn't feel at all comfortable in the dark/alone until it did .

The scares take second place to the laughs though - if a situation can be turned into a comedy skit, it will invariably go that way. The script thrives on absurdity and a healthy diet of cliche - which it uses or spoofs in equal measures. There's a lot of mugging and wilful overacting, but a sense of playfulness and fun from the cast that makes you forgive it and even appreciate it. There's not much of a point behind it all, not really any meaningful message to take away, but it's pretty solid entertainment. The movie also has really high production values - great sets, lighting, camerawork and very impressive special effects. The CGI isn't up to the standards of Hollywood's very best, but it's pretty good and effective. The whole movie feels slick - if it's possible to be slick and stupid at the same time

If you like the Hollywood Teen slasher-horror type affairs, then definitely try Pbob - unless I've been missing some US gems, I think it's probably better than any of them. If you're interested in seeing how a less bloated industry can produce product of at least the same quality and probably a whole lot more character than Hollywood, then try Pbob too. If you just want to see a really really cute girl get possessed by a liver-hungry ghost, then Pbob is probably your best choice too .