Director: Peter Manus
Year of release: 2002
Country of origin: Thailand
Running time: 103 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: A Thai Final Destination inspired supernatural slasher, 999-9999 kicks off with the discovery of the body of a young female student found in the schoolgrounds impaled on a flagpole. The story becomes a big deal in the newspapers and local news broadcasts and captures the attention of a close knit group of friends who attend another school. They quickly learn that a new student from the same school where the body was found has just transferred to their own school. Keen to pump this new girl known as Rainbow for any information she may be able to offer about the grisly death they go out of their way to befriend her and invite her into their clique. From Rainbow they hear she believes the death may be the consequence of calling a mysterious phone number, the 999-9999 of the title which when called after midnight will grant the caller any wish they ask for. Things take a sinister turn when the group after individually calling the number themselves find that they will be forced to pay the ultimate price once their wish is fulfilled.
Good points: Although it is unfair to compare the two as they are in some ways completely different films as I watched this I couldn’t help to draw comparisons with the only other Thai slasher and fellow number film I have seen 303. With both films being of Thai origin and having supernatural elements I had 303 constantly in the back of my mind when watching this and by comparison I found this one to be a lot better and more enjoyable to watch. A big problem I had with 303 were the characters none of whom really stood out but that wasn’t the case here at all with the characters being one of the stronger aspects. They all felt quite individually unique with different personalities from the enigmatic Rainbow, the nerdy Wawa and social outcast Moo Priew to the poser and initially arrogant Sun who later proved to be a bit more deep thinking and kinder than we first assumed.
There is a lot of originality and invention with the deaths and most of them are good fun to see unfold. Two of the more interesting I would say is an early one taking place in a carwash and another later on in the confines of a zero-gravity chamber within a space centre for astronaut hopefuls. With this being of the supernatural Final Destination breed it has a bit more leeway to come up with interesting scenarios as they aren’t restricted to the usual knife wielding killer related deaths and for the most part they use this freedom to good effect.
Going along with the deaths there is a decent level of gore for us to enjoy as well in particular for the last few deaths. It is a bit in the vein of being comedy inspired gore so it can be a bit over the top which isn’t entirely to my taste but it’s still a solid enough effort in this area when compared to a lot of other films.
Very mild spoiler: Without giving too much away there is something of a twist ending which did half catch me by surprise. I was kind of unsure about one of the characters throughout but not to the point that I predicted the ending. Though I don’t think one was ever made the way the film ends does set things up nicely for a sequel.
Bad Points: Big spoiler: The other side of the ending that I mentioned above is that it doesn’t clarify things quite as much as I would have liked. It seems as if they were telling us that Rainbow was working with the evil presence on the phone line but it wasn’t clear if she was willingly doing so or if she was being forced into helping to protect her own life. Maybe it was even trying to imply she actually was the evil presence or an extension of it? This is the issue you see as it was never made fully clear. So as you can imagine from this we weren’t provided with a backstory or explanation for what the evil truly was or what its motivations were or where it came from as we did with the more recent and somewhat similar Truth or Dare.
There was a silly cartoonish comedy streak running through the film which I didn’t much like. It bordered on being almost slapstick like at times and I think it disrupted things a bit and cheapened the film. In particular much of the comedy seemed to surround the Moo Priew character but I think they went too far with it to the point that it became much too silly and unrealistic.
There were a few little things that were either left unfinished, didn’t make sense/weren’t explained properly or were too unrealistic. For example we never see the parents for any of the main characters in the film, not even briefly in none talking cameo roles.
One of the characters Rajit sleeps in a tent erected inside his house with no explanation given.
The death of Meena seems unfinished as things just cut away mid scene while her death still seems to be going on. Another thing with Meena was that I didn’t think they did enough to explain what it was that she was competing for early on. She was announced the winner of some kind of competition to find a new news reporter for a hip show for teens but the first we heard of her interest in it was just her calling up her friends asking them to vote for her. She didn’t explain what the voting would be for though and the whole thing hadn’t been mentioned prior to this so my first thought when she kept banging on about this voting business was “Vote for you for what”?
I also noticed a weird bit where Son and Rainbow are walking and having a conversation at the same time about the phone number and the deaths that are likely to be connected. During the conversation they come to the conclusion that they need to warn Wawa who they think may be the next one in danger. Then all of a sudden the next thing you know they seem to be at the space station where she is staying but I certainly didn’t get the impression that was where they were headed when they first began the conversation. Sounds like a big nit pick on my part I know but it did stand out as being quite odd when watching the film and noticeably too convenient.
Verdict: A fun and entertaining movie that is an ideal option to pick if you are after something within the genre a little quirky and different. There are some decent characters, some inventive deaths and a steady level of gore on hand by the end. It could have done with taking itself a bit more seriously and the ending though good on one level did throw up unanswered questions. At time of writing I would place this among my top five out of the Asian slasher type films I’ve seen.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Female student: Found dead impaled on a flagpole.
2) Chi: Throat slashed by machinery blades inside a carwash.
3) Meena: Escapes a flooded toilet room filled with razor blades only to be hoisted up in ships engine room when a chain snakes around her ankle. Things strangely cut away as she is being pulled up but we later learn she was found hanging from a mast.
4) Rajit: Burnt to death in a gas explosion at his house.
5) Moo Priew: Falls to death after being knocked out of a window. Is eviscerated at the same time as his stomach rips open on the window ledge.
6) Wawa: Arm cut off and head sliced in half by big blades floating around in the zero-gravity chamber in the space station building.
7) Son: Impaled on a metal pipe which rips his heart from his chest.