Play spooky for me
In his new film, director Sophon ‘Jim’ Sakdaphisit says he treads the fine line between fear and horror His nickname is Jim. But for a long while close acquaintances of Sophon Sakdaphisit, writer and director of many Thai horror movies, have called him, tongue firmly pressed in cheek, “Jim Carpenter”.
The sobriquet, obviously an allusion to horror specialist John Carpenter, is less prophetic than it sounds at first.
“They call me Jim Carpenter not because I make horror movies,” says Sophon, whose latest ghost yarn, Ladda Land, is coming out next week. “They call me that because in university I liked to do a carpenter’s work, building sets and hammering wood and all that stuff.
“So when I made a short horror film, ‘Jim Carpenter’ fitted doubly well and it has stuck on since. Well, I laugh about it. The Thing is my favourite John Carpenter’s movie anyway.” Jim hasn’t yet crafted the bile-churning tour de force like John’s Halloween or The Thing, but clearly he’s working on it. Sophon’s not into satanic possession or superstitious occultism of the classic scare flicks.
Rather, his is a contemporary, wind-up toy kind of terror that relies on polished scripts, precise rhythm, and rug-pulling third-act twists. Only 30 years old, Sophon has written some of the best-known Thai ghost flicks of the past seven years, notably Shutter, that serviceable spook-fest about a photographer who keeps snapping unknown spirits in his pictures (he co-wrote that film with Banjong Pisanthanakul and Pakpoom Wongpoom).