Episode 1 of School Tales the Series takes place at Kirinmas International School. It’s 7:55am, and one student is panicking.
His name is Wittaya, and he can’t find his book for the class that’s starting in five minutes. You wouldn’t think that should start such a panic–he can just share with someone else, right?
The name of the book he needs is written on the chalkboard in his homeroom class. But while Wittaya desperately searches through his bag, looking for this precious textbook, the clock strikes 8. Everything and everyone freezes in time. All except for him.
The name of the book is disappears from the chalkboard. A blue light rushes toward him and knocks him to the ground, morphing into the form of a female ghost. Wittaya screams as she comes for him.
“They say that at 7am every day, a mysterious message would appear on the blackboard,” a narrator tells us. “Each day, it would name a book for a subject. If any student in the class failed to bring the book listed on the board, that student would die and be erased from everyone’s memory.”
A woman drags Wittaya’s body away as the clock resets to 8am. When Wittaya’s name is called during attendance that same morning, no one remembers him.
This curse is apparently well known in the classroom. Although many students don’t believe it, most still have their superstitions. Every day, the task has fallen to a student named Q to arrive early, at 7am, take a picture of the blackboard, and send his classmates the picture.
But his classmates don’t appreciate his efforts, heckling him to get to class even earlier so as not to inconvenience them. Only Tan stands up for him.
The next morning, Q arrives to school at 7am, but he’s fed up with his schoolmates. 7:07 rolls around, and he still hasn’t sent the picture. He texts his class that if they can be selfish, so can he.
It’s only when Tan messages him to ask if he’s okay that Q rushes to the classroom and sends the picture to everyone.
But the bullying against Q doesn’t let up. He’s only irritated further when he has eerie visions and starts to feel the presence of the ghost–but never sees her.
The students turn on Q when it leaks that he was seen having breakfast that morning instead of helping them. A student named Not pushes him to arrive the next morning even earlier, despite the “old story” that something bad will happen if anyone shows up earlier than 7.
Q arrives at 6:30, trembling with fear. He takes a picture of the board for his classmates right before the ghost strangles him and he falls unconscious.
Only Tan visits him in the school infirmary. When they leave, a panicked Auan asks for their help finding him a book. He’s lost his, and the rest of the class would rather make fun of him than help.
Tan and Q help, but Tan is only made fun of for taking Q’s side and for visiting him in the infirmary. While Q is out of the room, Not accuses her of liking Q and asks if she slept with him.
Tan admits to sleeping with and using Q all along. She tricked him into falling for her so he would help everyone else. That morning Q was having breakfast, she was there early. She witnessed him and texted him just at the right moment–thus, saving all of their lives.
Just then, Auan finds his book in his best friend Vaan’s desk. Vaan had forgotten his own and stole that of his friend. Then, Q rushes in to punch Vaan for his betrayal and start a fight with Not.
Just as the bell rings–as everyone is distracted–Vaan rips the textbook out of Auan’s hands. Time stands still. All the students apart from Auan freeze and slowly disappear until he’s the only one left. The ghost comes for him.
The next morning, Q is the only student left in the class. A flashback fills in the gaps.
When Tan admitted how she tricked Q, he was listening outside the door. With everyone bullying him and no one on his side, he didn’t see any more reason to keep helping his fellow students.
The next morning, Q arrived to class early, as usual. But he erased the blackboard and sent his classmates an old picture. At 8am, the ghost came for them all–killing Tan first.
The ghost of Wittaya appeared in front of Not, wanting vengeance. Not didn’t remember, but Wittaya did–how Not stole Wittaya’s textbook and gave it to Tan because he bothered them, and they wanted to see if the curse was real.
A TV news report from the past sheds light on who the ghost is. A teacher, the report says, once brutally murdered the students in that classroom, right before dying by suicide. No one knows why.
The Episode Review
The first episode in this Thai horror anthology, directed by James Thanadol, takes an interesting concept but fails to implement it in an optimal timeline.
We begin the story in what feels like a sequel episode. We’re not shown how the students come to figure out, fear, and respect this curse. Rather, we’re plopped in a place on the timeline that doesn’t have as much a sense of mystery or anticipation. The premise is much blander: The students have figured the curse out. The conflict comes mostly in whether they choose to respect it.
There are several extraneous and out-of-context twists and turns employed more for shock value than horrific scares. This, combined with the multiple inconsistencies in the story, make it hard for me to suspend my disbelief and delight in “7AM” as a truly chilling tale.
Luckily, however, School Tales the Series is an anthology. If, like me, there wasn’t enough in this episode to engage you, there’s likely more that the series has to offer for you.