Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Nang Phee (The Cinderella)

  • Directed by Sarawut Intaraprom
  • Starring Niranart Victoria Coates, Pattaranan Deerassami, Sarunyu Prachakrit, Wasit Phongsopa, Anchalee Saisoontorn
  • Released in Thai cinemas on April 12, 2011; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

The gore-filled low-budget Nang Phee (หนังผี), a.k.a. The Cinderella works better as a horror comedy and satire of the Thai film industry than it does as a thriller.

The scares are predictably hilarious in this tale of a egotistical jerk of an actor named Rashane (Sarunyu Prachakrit) who dies in an accident on the set of a torture-porn thriller.

The movie-within-the movie's co-starring actor, played by Wasit Phongsopa, then auditions to take the place of the dead leading man, whom he idolized.

The cast and crew are trapped on Si Chang island at a boutique resort that conveniently resembles a horror castle. Here's where Rashane, back from the grave thanks to the black-magic incantations of his sorceress mother, plods around killing everyone.

Like Hannibal Lecter, he peels back the scalp of the movie's director and exposes his brains. And that's not the only Silence of the Lambs reference in this movie. Rashane then attacks the director's busty, scantily clad girlfriend and removes one of her breast implants.

The movie's female stars Niranart Victoria Coates and Pattaranan "Nannie Girly Berry" Deerassami are left with not much to do except run around, scream and somehow stay alive.

And something's not right about the undead Rashane, who appears as though he's been stitched back together after an autopsy and his skin isn't properly fitted. His face fits like a mask, with black sockets for eyes. And as for the equipment on this nude marauder, he's as atomically correct as a zombie Ken doll.

Thank goodness then for the appearance of Wonderful Town actress Anchalee Saisoontorn, who portrays an acting coach. Her radical teaching techniques spark a dramatic transformation in the wooden performance of the replacement actor.

Anchalee gives the movie dramatic weight as she plays it straight. But there's a slight sideways glimmer in her eyes, offering a clue that maybe she's in on the joke.

Indeed, Anchalee is also credited as one of the movie's acting coaches, alongside Insects in the Backyard director Tanwarin Sukkhapiset. And this gives director Sarawut Intaraprom a chance to make cheeky references to both Wonderful Town and the banned Insects (in which Anchalee also stars).

Her character is the key to the movie, and offers the reason for the English title The Cinderella (to follow last year's thriller by Sarawut, The Snow White). As an acting coach, she's the fairy godmother for the young replacement actor, who grants him his wish. Only when midnight comes, he isn't turning into a pumpkin.

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