Posts Tagged ‘slasher’

BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 [RAHTREE’S REVENGE | บุปผาราตรี 3.2]

2010/02/21

http://www.sahamongkolfilm.com/

Thailand 2009   Directed & Written by: Yuthlert Sippapak   Cast: Chermarn Boonyasak, Mario Maurer, Somlek Sakdikul, Arkorn Peedrakul, Chantana Kittiyapan, Nuttawan Saksiri, Santisuk Promsiri

Now finally also Thailand got one: a film rating system. Thank god. Gone are the golden days when CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was screened publicly around the clock in every mall so that mummy could keep the little ones busy with some fine entertainment while shopping the latest soaps on DVD. Even if the Thais so far did well without ratings, it was certainly only a question of time until the censors would institutionalize the power in theirs hands.

As a result BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 was the first Thai film getting a rating (Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was the first film ever). For BUPPAH authorities agreed to rate it 18+ (the rating goes up to 20+), but whether it will have any effect is questionable – at the end the largest group of movie goers are teenagers, and they are used to attend any movie they like, no matter what the level of sex and violence may be.

Until now censorship in the kingdom was much more random and some hope that now rating will help to classify films rather than cut them, but well, film ratings are what they are, right? We’ll keep observing what’s going on and will post updates as soon as available.

BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 is the fourth installment of Sippapaks franchise and it is a linear continuation of the ghost movie series. Part love story, part comedy, part horror film BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 is still a vague affair. Is it inconsistency, or is it creativity? You decide. Like many other films BUPPAH mixes solid suspense, gross ideas, splatter and humor and appears changing its mood and tone every five minutes.

Funny: in Thailand we can still enjoy and laugh about penis jokes, haha. Yep, that’s what the local audience likes, no shit. Unfortunately many have noticed that this also doesn’t exactly help the Thai film to grow up, or evolve for that matter. If you afford the luxury of wasting 10 minutes of your movie with a joke about the length of penises then it means you have nothing better to offer. And you simply supply according to the demand.

Overall BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 works quite well though: the emotional moments show the soft side of the film, while the horror produces sufficient goose bumps, and yes, you can even laugh about the funny scenes disregard how stupid they might be.

BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 last but not least reflects the status quo of the Thai nation: ghosts, or better spirits, are part of daily life and simply speaking also rooted in Buddhism. The films deals with the key issue of releasing souls and with reincarnation, and the fact that some spirits endlessly stick to other souls or won’t let go of certain activities they were used to, like for instance “revenge“. That’s the reason why the cartoon artist is looking for Buppah in the afterlife, as he hasn’t told her yet that he loves her. And that’s why Buppah kills again and again. In between all that the film makes fun of whatever comes its way, monks, police corruption, politicians, you name it.

The story doesn’t always develop in a linear fashion, but nevertheless gets it shit together and ends with a beautiful twist. Finally everything looks so homogeneous and it would have been better if BUPPAH wouldn’t constantly divert from the actual story that has enough substance to make a good film actually.

BUPPAH RAHTREE 3.2 improves over its running time – it may be far from art, but after a spelling mistake in the credits (sic!) at the beginning (“Excutive producer“) it develops into a pretty good popcorn film for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

J.



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HA PRAENG a.k.a. HA PHRAENG [PHOBIA 2 | 5 แพร่ง]

2010/02/20

http://www.phobia2.com/

Thailand 2009   Directed by: Paween Purijitpanya, Visute Poolvoraluks, Songyos Sukmakanant, Pakpoom Wongpoom, Banjong Pisanthanakul   Cast: Nicole Theriault, Marsha Vadhanapanich, Voravej Danuwong, Charlie Trairat, Wiwat Kongrasri, Pongsatorn Jongwilas, Nattapong Chartpong, Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk

HA PRAENG (internationally marketed as PHOBIA 2, since it’s the kind-of-successor of 4-BIA (SI PRAENG)) on the one hand refers to the five episodes the film consists of. The title however can be literally translated as “five paths”. The word “praeng” describes a place where spirits live (spirits not necessarily being ghosts in the same sense westerners would refer to them), whereas the common phrase sam praeng (“three paths”) describes a crossing of three roads or a T-junction, with one end being the place where the spirits live. Certainly not a good location to build your house there, I’d say.

HA PRAENG essentially is a collection of ghost stories that fundamentally deal with retaliation for committed sins: according to buddhist karma sinners are haunted by spirits or ghosts as punishment. This is best illustrated by the impressive first episode NOVICE where a teenager who committed a “fun crime” is sent to monks living in a forest in order to pray for forgiveness. Coincidentally an annual ritual is about to take place, one that is supposed to please the “hungry ghosts” of the forest. The “hungry ghosts” are a well-known Thai (and Asian) legend (some might call it a fairytale). They are forest spirits large as trees, and who feels that the idea has been borrowed from LORD OF THE RINGS is wrong by the way.

One evening the young monk begins to see the hungry ghosts and one of them is really messing with the monk. We think to know why, but NOVICE keeps the crucial twist for the bitter end. The finale, in principle quite simple, is nevertheless difficult to watch due its dramatic turn and raw nature. NOVICE is a welcome comment on the progressing moral decline of our societies, and it’s fun to see that this asshole is getting it big time in return for what he’s done. Bravo.

In the second episode WARD the victim of an accident is put in a hospital room together with an old patient. Although that patient is supposed to die the next day as his life supporting machines will be switched off, the young man believes to see him moving around at night – until he even attacks the student and tries to kill him with his bare hands. Or was that only a dream? WARD is clearly the weakest film of the anthology. The Script is too vague and deviates clearly from the concept of HA PRAENG. Although it’s a solid episode (the CEO of the production company himself turned director for the first time) its story is neither original nor can it surprise us. WARD is quite entertaining however and is therefore not a total failure, however it’s also not representative for the overall quality of HA PRAENG.

The following episode called BACKPACKERS is clearly more interesting: two hitchhiking Japanese tourists are picked up by a truck driver and his pal. Suddenly they hear noise from the rear end of the truck, and it turns out that the truck is filled with drug couriers who have just died a horrible death. The condoms – not of the best quality it appears – in which the drugs had been smuggled have burst and killed all of the couriers almost instantly. Things go completely haywire when the first dead courier returns to life and attacks one of the tourists – the zombies are on the loose and take revenge for the negligent way they were treated before.

BACKPACKERS is perhaps the first real zombie film from Thailand and is really great: it might not be very original, but compensates with extreme speed. The whole segment is very tense, nerve-ripping, fast and brutal. Romero and Boyle would be proud. Finally a zombie film with reason: not only when there’s no more room in hell the dead return, but also when they’ve died by the hand of an idiot. BACKPACKERS is a great homage and a very clever adaptation into the Thai way of thinking. On top of it it’s pure rock’n roll and marks the peak of HA PRAENG – for now.

In the fourth installment SALVAGE an unscrupulous car dealer makes a fortune by selling used cars. The problem: all of the cars had accidents involving deaths, a fact the dealer doesn’t tell the prospects. All goes well until one evening her son vanishes on the dealership premises. The search for him becomes ever more desperate and mysterious and ends with a pretty sad twist. SALVAGE knows how to increase the tension continuously without complicating things. The ending feels uncomfortably real and tells us that we can’t get away with unethical, questionable behavior forever. There are no shortcuts in life.

The final episode then is a true highlight and a worthy conclusion: KHON GONG, literally “film crew“, tells the story of a film crew that is about to wrap their latest horror flick production. Unfortunately the actress who plays a ghost gets very sick and must be admitted to hospital. From then on its pure madness and after numerous crazy plot twists the film ends with a twinkle in the eye.

KHON GONG is a masterpiece, a creative work of art that makes fun of an entire genre, if not the whole movie industry. It masterfully plays with our expectations and uses all possible cinematic clichés against us. It is intelligently written, brilliantly executed and makes us die laughing. After two hours of shock and awe KHON GONG is a welcome change and most probably the best ghost movie without ghosts ever. Genius!

HA PRAENG is an intelligent and exciting horror movie series. With all its outstanding stories and first-class cinematic qualities it makes for a real treat that stands apart from most horror movies of last year. It’s a very serious shock fest rooted in real life, showing situations we can relate to, the daily insanity, and blurring the borders between our world and the world of the spirits and demons.

A colleague recently wrote that Asians produce the best ghost movies, because they believe in spirits and produce films for a public that grew up the same way, with spirits as social reality and hence being very open for such stories. HA PRAENG illustrates this perfectly. In short: the best horror film of 2009 is from Thailand. Keep them coming.

J.




CHEUN: KAAT-DTA-GAM RAM-LEUK [SLICE | เฉือน]

2010/02/01

http://www.slicethemovie.com/

Thailand 2010  Directed & Written by: Kongkiat Khomsiri  Story: Wisit Sasanatieng  Cast: Arak Amornsupasiri, Chatchai Plengpanich, Sonthaya Chitmanee, Sikarin Polyong, Attapan Poolsawasdi

One of the most ambitious Thai films of late 2009 was certainly CHEUN (SLICE) by ART OF THE DEVIL co-director Khomsiri: Papa Chin, a dodgy cop, is looking for a serial killer, and he only has one last chance to find him within the next 15 days according to his fed-up superiors. His last resort is Tai, a former colleague, who is now doing time in prison and is released temporarily to help searching for the killer who apparently is an old acquaintance from the past. Tai goes back to the place where he grew up and starts putting the pieces together – just to find out a shocking truth indeed.

CHEUN turns out a really serious, no-nonsense crime thriller. Particularly convincing are the emotional moments that can excel even the expected and very graphic scenes of violence. CHEUN – quite surprisingly – is not a simple, predictable slasher movie, but avoids severe plot holes, features good actors and is beautifully shot, edited and scored. Ambitions do pay off.

Despite some minor “references” to other films (borrowing ideas from DON’T LOOK NOW, A BITTERSWEET LIFE or OLD BOY) CHEUN remains an original, skillfully written and equally convincing as drama, emotional coming-of-age story or brutal thriller. CHEUN is also very smart when it comes to connecting the various storylines without losing track.

Particularly astonishing about CHEUN however are the extremes that Khomsiri plays around with while keeping everything perfectly balanced: the brutal murders couldn’t be any more graphic, while the emotional scenes are truly touching. CHEUN may actually be the better drama: more and more do we start to sympathize with the killer, more and more is it not anymore about who the killer actually is, but why he kills. The reasons behind quickly become more fascinating than the atrocities.

The uncomfortable truth (still) is: when we look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into us. The killer didn’t turn himself into a monster, but society did. CHEUN is one of the few films in recent memory that doesn’t compromise or let us off the hook – long after the film is over we keep thinking about it.

CHEUN is authentic, down to earth, genuine, and reminds me of the completely underrated Hong Kong drama SLOW FADE. It doesn’t reach its extreme levels of permanent depression and decay, but the downwards spiral is equally inexorable. The showdown doesn’t gear towards redemption, but a last knockout.

I can’t help but wonder why I am doing this to myself. And can’t wait to watch CHEUN all over again nevertheless.

J.