Posts Tagged ‘thai movie news’

THE 4 MOVIE a.k.a. 4 PSYCHO [LUD 4 LUD a.k.a. LUD SEE LUD | หลุดสี่หลุด a.k.a. หลุด 4 หลุด]


THAILAND 2010  Directed by: Ekkasith Thairatana, Chukiat Sakveerakul, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Phawit Panangkasiri Written by: Ekkasit Thairatana Produced by: Prachya Pinkaew Cast: Akarin Akaranitimetharat,  Alexander Rendel,  Chanon Rikulsurakann, Thanapon Arrunneth, Patrapisit Sappasawattichod, Alice Toy, ArttanunPiyaserth, Sirikarin Ployong, Janjira Chumneansiri, Ananda Everingham,  Peerapol Sehnakol, Thitti Vejchaboon, Pakorn Chatborirak,  Thema Kanchanapairin

If certain producers go on like this we will have more omnibus horror movies coming out of Thailand soon than feature films. Here we go again: LUD 4 LUD a.k.a. THE 4 MOVIE is one of the last productions to be finished end of last year and has just hit Thai cinemas in January.

The four segments are directed by writer and first-time director Ekkasith Thairatana, Chukiat Sakveerakul, Kongkiat Khomsiri and Phawit Panangkasiri. Mr. Thairatana’s segment is called CLEAN UP DAY (GRIAN LAANG LOK | เกรียน ล้าง โลก) and is merely an appetizer. The story revolves around a group of guys debating global warming and its causes, leading to the core of the story that identifies humans as the root of all evil and reveals a plot to kill all humans through a lethal virus.

The second film is the sarcastic THE GIFT SHOP FOR THE ONES YOU HATE (RAN KONG KWAN PEUA KON TEE KUN GLIAT | ร้าน ของขวัญ เพื่อ คน ที่ คุณ เกลียด) directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri (SLICE). A white-collar office worker is promoted to be the new manager of his department, but not everyone seems to be delighted. Soon he receives questionable gifts, all obviously sourced from a mysterious shop around the corner of his office called The Gift Shop For The Ones You Hate. Nomen nest omen.

The third entry is directed by Phawit Panangkasiri and called EERIE NIGHTS (KEUN JIT LUT | คืน จิต หลุด): a group of criminals is on the run and hides from the police in an abandoned hospital. There, things get quickly out of hand (literally) with the criminals beginning to fight and a ghost starting to haunt them.

The final episode then is a ghost comedy called HOO AA GONG (ฮู อา กง), telling the story about a Thai-Chinese family that has to watch over the body of the deceased grandfather. The family members feel awkward about the task, and so does the spirit of the grandfather who prefers to be rather active than lying dead in his bed.

Different from other horror anthologies in recent years LUD 4 LUD is mostly straight forward with only a little hint of Buddhist subtexts (as in EERIE NIGHTS) or references to the widespread belief in ghosts a.k.a. spirits. LUD 4 LUD isn’t really much of a horror movie, but mostly plays with our expectations towards the genre while in fact mostly not dealing with any supernatural ingredients at all: only the 4th segment is about real ghosts, while the segments 1-3 are trying to trick the protagonists as well as the audience into believing that something otherworldly is going on, which however is not. Since the last installment is a comedy I am not sure if I shall call THE 4 MOVIE a horror anthology at all.

Out of all entries THE GIFT SHOP FOR THE ONES YOU HATE is clearly the most original, creative and entertaining movie of the pack, leaving the others trailing behind. The first film starts interesting but turns out a lame duck, unsuccessfully trying to blend into the oh-so fashionable environmental debate, while formally kind of copying James Wan’s camera-moves-up-and-down-and-in-and-out-of-a-parking-lot set piece from DEATH SENTENCE. The conclusion then is totally random and renders the rest of the film meaningless.

Mr. Khomsiri’s movie stands out through its inventive idea, good script and proper execution, making it feel like a short feature film rather than a long short and delivering proper dramaturgy and character / story development while finding the right balance between paranoia film and horror-thriller, while embedding his scenario into a context that is very familiar to all of us. It could all happen to you, and that’s why this segment is the most terrifying after all.

The third segment feels too much like an adaptation of NAK PROK (THE SHADOW OF THE NAGA) and disappoints through predictable twists. However, it also features a great Ananda Everingham who looks like he just left the set of RED EAGLE (INSEE DAENG) and some uncomfortable gore (the only real on-screen violence of the quartet that has contributed to the film’s 18+ rating). EERIE NIGHTS is a one-man-show without ghosts, but has a touch of karmic lecture that makes it probably the most meaningful story here.

Lastly, LUD 4 LUD’s only real ghost story makes for a really funny finale, albeit for a stupid-funny one. Don’t expect anything remotely intelligent, HOO AA GONG is just for laughs and as tasteless as it gets, throwing in a big bouquet of masturbation scenes, gay jokes and corpse slapstick. Most of the humor works quite well however, and the ending is the most satisfying one of all films.

LUD 4 LUD is pure entertainment, free of the complexity or intellectual qualities of some of the other omnibus or contemporary horror films from Thailand. If your only concern is having a good time, then there is nothing to worry about.




PAD THAI: FON TOK KUEN FAH [ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า]


Pen-Ek Ratanaruang reportedly starts shooting his new movie called FON TOK KUEN FAH this month. The movie is based on a novel by Win Lyovarin and is said to be a film-noir hitman movie. Nothing against his last two movies but I am looking forward to Pen-Ek returning to more “noir” territory (even without Takashi Miike playing a gangster). We hope to get more information soon.


9 WAT a.k.a. SECRET SUNDAY a.k.a. 9 TEMPLES [9 วัด]


THAILAND 2010  Directed & Written by: Saranyu Jiralaksanakul  Produced by: Sirippakorn Wongchariyawat Cast: Siraphan Wattanajinda, James Alexander, Paradorn Sirakowit, Penpak Sirikul

Karma is like a bloodhound. It will always find you.

It is common practice in Thailand for some people at some time to go on a journey to visit 9 Temples and make merit (hence the original Title 9 WAT – I am still not sure who came up with SECRET SUNDAY as this international title does not relate to the film at all). Many go on the journey around Sonkran, the Thai new year, and it’s of course no coincidence that the film opened on the auspicious April 13th, despite that being a Tuesday and an irregular day for any film to start in cinemas.

In 9 WAT three people are more or less willingly going on that journey to do good and return home cleansed and with a pure heart and mind: Nat, a young designer who his mother sends on the journey; Poon, his girlfriend who comes along as they will visit his mother on the way to Chiang Mai; and a young monk who needs a lift as he is going on a pilgrimage.

The reason for Nat and Poon to go and visit nine temples despite them being not exactly into Buddhism is that they are recently haunted by ghosts – just like Nat’s mother who wants her son to go. Soon even the monk will see ghosts, but it is not until the end of 9 WAT that they (and we) will understand why they are haunted and how their karma is related far beyond their worldly relationships. A shocking truth awaits the three of them, but the way to discover the truth is equally scary and filled with dark visions and very real threats waiting around every corner of the winding road into the Thai mountains.

9 WAT looks like your average Thai horror flick if you take the promotion materials as a benchmark, but it turns out to be a continuation of recent milestones like HA PHRAENG and also TAAI HONG that are fundamentally dealing with Buddhist beliefs and the question of how to lead a good life.

9 WAT quintessentially is a film about karma and how it impacts our lives, previous lives or the afterlife. Apart from karma being beyond human comprehension and its ways not always being rational or logical the way we’d expect them to be, karma also fundamentally defines how people are related as well as the karma between them is a unique cycle that cannot be interrupted or changed without consequence.

So don’t expect the movie to serve you shocks by the minute or blood and gore galore. Yes, 9 WAT is scary, yes, it’s a bit gross, but it is also another good example of horror that works particularly well within a specific context: it should be working best for people who grew up with and believe in Buddhism and related beliefs, whereas 9 WAT will probably be less scary for people who do not know much about the Buddhist religion. In comparison, however, 9 WAT is by far more effective than NANG NAK (Saranyu Jiralaksanakul was the assistant director back then) that bored the shit out of me and didn’t work for me at all.

A couple of key features help 9 WAT to make it to the finish line. First of all it’s a movie about karma and beliefs packaged like a horror movie. So the message and the story are more important than the special effects. Then, it’s a horror movie told as a road movie what gives the film quite a different mood and tone. Furthermore it features a small, but convincing cast and very intimate atmosphere that is also reflected in its visual style. Hence the film is beautifully shot and at times looks almost too poetic and personal (like a photo album photographed in lomo fashion), making us forget about the terrifying images we just saw minutes ago.

The cathartic ending of 9 WAT is happening fast and with little warning. It is not entirely satisfying, but reasonable enough to not render the script pointless. The movie takes a looong time to get there though and for many it may not be worth the wait. Thinking of it, the journey is an essential part of 9 WAT and I think we just have to roll with it. Just like the characters we learn a lot about karma and ourselves on the road to Chiang Mai; it’s pretty much like we’re in the car with them.

9 WAT, sometimes eclectic but mostly original is not for hardcore horror movie buffs, but is for those who like good cinema without thinking about genre labels. 9 WAT doesn’t achieve greatness but is cementing Thailand’s position as producer of some of the most interesting and creative “horror” movies.

While some of the big names in horror have disappointed us lately some of the Thai movies have proven to be fresh, frightening, funny and fabulously entertaining. HA PHRAENG was the best horror movie of 2009 as far as I am concerned, and with a continuous output of high quality material like 9 WAT I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 is another top vintage for the Thai film industry.

9 WAT is not the goal yet, but it’s an important part of the journey.