Saturday, February 11, 2006

Review: Krasue Valentine

  • Directed by Yuthlert Sippapak
  • Starring Pitisak Yaowananon, Ploy Jindachote, Kowit Wattanakul, Viyada Umarin
  • Wide release in Thailand cinemas on February 9, 2006
  • Rating: 4/5

With Krasue Valentine, Yuthlert Sippapak takes up the mantle as the Thai King of Suspense. He spins a dark tale of the consequences of bad karma, mixing in his trademark touches of Thai comedians, comedic bits and even a bit of gore and violence to to lighten things up. Overall, it's a beautiful film, lit with a warm, golden glow.

Really, this is one of those movies that it's dangerous to write too much about because it gives things away. It's better to just let things unfold. But enough has been reported already that it's okay to write a bit more.

Ploy Jindachote stars as Sao, a young nurse who hires on at a dreary, old Bangkok hospital. The very day she reports to work is Valentine's Day.

Upstairs, on the second floor, an orderly named Num (an excellent Pitisak Yaowanan from Ai Fak) is going about his duties. He's disabled somehow, with a crooked mouth and a gimpy leg. He's just had a scary run-in with an older nurse. A cute little girl is selling roses. She has one left, and convinces Num to buy it from her. But since he has no one to give the rose to, he lets the little girl keep it.

The little girl then goes downstairs, sees Sao sitting on the bench and gives her the rose, pointing to the orderly upstairs, saying he sent it to her. So now the new nurse and the disabled orderly share some kind of bond.

With no place else to stay, Sao takes up residence in a small house on the hospital grounds. It's a pretty creepy little house, but Sao says she isn't bothered by it. She has other things on her mind - like a boyfriend who left her because she turns into a ghost. How preposterous! The nerve of the guy.

But when nightfall comes, and the drunken guard and the drunken janitor (a couple of Thai comedians) are making their rounds, the guard goes off to take a whiz and sure enough, he sees the floating head and dangling, glowing entrails of the krasue ghost.

That much I can give away, just because it's been in the previews, and on the movie posters.

Much more than that, and I'll ruin it, though I will say there's a moment where I wonder if there was a continuity error that left me confused. Just a blip on what is otherwise a great movie.

Fans of Buppa Rahtree won't be disappointed, what with all the running around and screaming by the cast of comics. A couple of hilarious cops (one of them is producer-director Adirek "Uncle" Watleela) from that earlier ghost movie by Yuthlert even turn up and reprise their role, getting in the elevator and saying "it's strangely familiar".

But it takes a dark turn, too, and it's much more subtle than Buppa Rahtree, or any other Thai film I've seen recently. I like that. Just hint at something. Make me have to really look and pay attention, and I'll come back for more.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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