Wide World of Horror: ‘Vignean Krohom (The Red Sense’) – when amateurs run wild it’s the viewer that suffers

Vignean Krohom (The Red Sense)


Written by Tim Pek
Directed by Tim Pek
2008, Australia/Cambodia

Amateurism is a major facet of the film industry. There are oodles of films released every year that are amateur productions, and some of them can be genuinely great. Then there are the professional productions that employ amateurs in key roles. Cinema has been using amateurism since the film industry first started churning out films. Amateurism in and of itself is not a bad element within a film. However, there are films where the amateurism makes for a rather difficult viewing experience.

One such film is Vignean Krohom, the joint Cambodian and Australian attempt at horror. There weren’t many, if any, professionals involved with the filming of Vignean Krohom. This shines through in every second of the film, even when the film is in its more passable moments. The director is an amateur, every one of the actors is obviously an amateur, and this is one film that could have used some professionalism. Vignean Krohom reeks of being made by people who don’t know what they are doing, and there’s no reason anyone should have to sit through such a production.

Where Vignean Krohom earns brownie points is also where the film is at its worst. Tim Pek tries his hardest to show some skill behind the camera. To this end he floods the film with every possible directorial trick he has ever been exposed to. Fades in and out, split screen montages, shaky cam, color shading, and many more tools are employed by the Cambodian director. One must know how to use tools for them to have the desired effect, and Tuon Pek does not know how to use the tools at his disposal. Vignean Krohom gets credit for using a technique like split screen. At the same time the film is maddening for using such a technique and not understanding why it, or even how it, is using said technique.

Vignean Krohom clocks in at an hour and a half, but that runtime is anything but brisk. The film is a slog to get through, with its repeated use of slow motion taking on a prophetic effect. What happen with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge is a tragic part of Cambodian history. Great movies can be made based on that period in Cambodian history, and some of those great movies could be horror movies. Maybe even some of those great movies could be amateur productions. Vignean Krohom is not an amateur production that gets the job done, as it fails as a horror film, a reflection on Cambodia’s history, and a film in general. Sadly, Cambodia doesn’t have much else to offer in terms of horror films, so amateur hour reigns supreme for the time being.

-Bill Thompson

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