An original dark nod to the terrors of the unknown that take the shape of both cosmic terrors and the more pertinent threats of intimacy, The Commitment emphasizes the brooding style and humanistic themes that ghost stories embody so powerfully. Emphasized by a subjective, lyrical style which popularized the Asian approach to themes of redemption, sin, and self in such successes as Ringu and Momento Mori, The Commitment is a ghost story where the psychological treatment of believable characters is just as suspenseful as the supernatural elements surrounding them. Attacking the vulnerable beliefs and matter-of-fact ideals that its characters use for identity/survival in a dark world (a world itself often lacking such attributes of logic or safety), this rendition of spectral vengeance is a scathing parable that modernizes the age-old theme of keeping one's promise . . . and the often terrifying consequences.

Focusing on three teen school-friends The Commitment places itself in parallel territory to everything from Ringu to Whispering Corridors, albeit with a vastly different atmosphere and approach. When Moss, Pin and Muay sneak into a reputedly Haunted House -- a refreshingly traditional thing for children to do, already investing the story with the feeling of a folktale -- they are, in fact, leaving behind childhood forever, entering that harsh, exacting realm of adulthood where words must have meaning, and promises kept. Making a wish at a shrine, believing that the house's spirits will grant their desires, the touching simplicity and na´ve innocence of childhood which is so wonderfully established in the film's beginning is crushed when the spirits respond with malevolence. A majority of the plot evolves around each girl ruing her actions, tormented by her own wish, the consequences of which range from malicious to deadly. The moral of the story is easily discerned, yet the direction and atmosphere, as well as the subjective way in which these simple conceits are attacked, keep the story fresh and lend a sense of impending danger to what could have easily became nothing more significant than a routine supernatural 'stalk-n-slash.' As each child's wish is turned around, the supernatural elements of the story highlight the moral implications of duty, promises, and consequences -- without resembling a sermon, thankfully. Director Montree Khong-im understood his first job was to entertain, and he does so with enthusiasm and technique. The moral nature of the material, and the simplistically universal relevance that the themes share with our lives make the horror even more frightening, expressing by the language of the fantastic that which must be faced every day in the 'real' world.

Crossing taboos of relationships with both intelligence and sensitivity, The Commitment is a dissection of emotional stability, cultural breakdown, and the unceasing conflict between desire and wisdom. At heart, it is also a simply chilling tale of unearthly spirits haunting the innocent young. Darkly beautiful and, at times, painful to watch, the film embraces the very essence of tragedy, succeeding in both story and style where several modern Grudge and Pulse re-hashes fail. Focusing on the alienated, the lost, and the desperate, these recognizable outcasts are betrayed by their very faiths in a well ordered world and ignorance. Following the structure of ghost fiction, wherein horrid mysteries of the recent past. Like fate, time is almost a physical force herein, not simply a concept. Guilt, too, is examined. Of more obvious interest for the ghost story fan is the film's glimpses of a lurking Otherworld which makes itself known through extensions of everyday stress. Told with a poetic voice, shot with an unerring eye for the creepy detail, The Commitment packs an emotional punch that soon won't be exorcized.

Picture quality is in typically fine shape, treated with respect and attention by Tokyo-Shock, a child of Media Blasters. Sharp and with finely balanced hues of detail, the anamorphic widescreen image (1.85:1) is clear, lacking grain or other distortions. Audio in Thai 5.1 and Thai 2.0 with additional English sub-titles is evenly balanced, with the soundtrack lending suspense to the on-screen carnage. While extras are not as meaningful nor as generous as with other recent Tokyo Shock Discs, what is offered remains entertaining, including Cast and Crew Interviews (without sub-titles), an effective Promotional Trailer, and Trailers for The Unborn, Terror Taxi, The Great Yoki War, and Art of the Devil (2).

Review by William P. Simmons

Released by Tokyo Shock
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review