Written and directed by Kanphong Banjongphinij, co-written by Lee Thongkham, after not seeing each other for a long time, five friends go on a vacation together at a quiet isolated. Things take a dark turn when it’s revealed that each of them have secrets and unbeknownst to the group, there is someone observing them. Starring: Sananthachat Thanapatpisal, Patchata Jan-Ngern, Khemanit Jamikorn, Tao Sattaphong Phiangphor, Panisara Rikulsurakan, Akalavut Mankalasut, Chanagun Arpornsutinan and Teerapong Liaorakwong.
Slashers are a beloved subgenre of horror, even those at their trashiest still have plenty of entertainment to offer, but getting them right on the money is trickier than it seems. Night of the Killer Bears is a great example of one that strikes the right balance, not too gory, not too sex obsessed and they don’t overdo it on the nudity. Most films tend to fall into one of those traps so it’s always fun to see a film succeed in making a classically fun, violent offering. One that also has a decent story beneath that blood and gore, it may not be complex or difficult to predict but it captures your attention and gives the violence a decent purpose, which again is not something that’s always guaranteed in horror.
It’s worth noting that the marketing can be somewhat misleading with Night of the Killer Bears, because if you’re expecting teddy bears to come to life and attack people, you’ll be disappointed. Although the titular killer bears are well done, there’s a great design to the mascot style heads which are adorable enough to make the threatening people beneath them even more fun. It also nicely feeds into the typical slasher feel, keeping the true villain hidden until they’re ready to make their big reveal and revenge speech. Visually it has a great palette, the location is well chosen and allows a fantastic amount of rich colour to come through. It’s a satisfying contrast with the idyllic vacation spot mixed with death and destruction.
The opening note of violence is extremely well done, to the point that it’s a shame the film’s first victims don’t get to stick around longer. The ensemble of holidaymakers and potential victims are similarly a strong blend of actors. We don’t get to know their characters too well before their night of terror begins but they’re still a sympathetic bunch and are thankfully not the usual vapid, throwaway stereotypes. However, it’s the women who really shine in Night of the Killer Bears, Sananthachat Thanapatpisal takes a slight lead and does so with a wit and resourcefulness. Panisara Rikulsurakan manages to impressively create a complex character within a short amount of time, leaving you wishing for a spinoff.
Night of the Killer Bears is a must watch for any slasher fan. It finally recaptures the golden ratio that’s often missing these days, it’s violent, chaotic and slightly over the top in the best of ways. Yes, if you’re a horror devotee, you’ll know where this is headed immediately but it genuinely doesn’t affect how much you’ll enjoy it. There’s solid directorial work, a decent story and a great cast, all of which adds up to some easy, entertaining and bloody viewing.