Thursday, November 2, 2006

Review: The Unseeable

  • Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng
  • Written by Komkiat Khomsiri
  • Starring Supornthip Choungrangsee, Siraphun Wattanajinda, Tassawan Seneewong na Ayutthaya, Visa Kongka
  • Wide release in Thai cinemas on November 2, 2006

One of those kinds of suspense yarns that can't really be written about without giving away too much, The Unseeable might cause you to question your very existence.

This intelligent, spooky ghost story is expertly directed by Wisit Sasanatieng, who is restrained in his usual colorful style, but it still oozes old-timey Siamese atmosphere and for that alone, it's a beautiful film to watch.

Set in 1930s rural Thailand, the story concerns a young pregnant woman named Nualjun, played by Siraphun Wattanajinda, who had the title role in last year's Dear Dakanda.

Nualjun's husband, Chob, has gone missing. Her search leads her to a rambling, rundown mansion in the countryside. The place is way too scary, with creaking wooden floors, squeaking doors, locked rooms and an overgrown garden. There's a stern caretaker, Somchit, and the mysterious, delicate mistress of the house, Madame Runjuan (Bangkok businesswoman and socialite Supornthip Choungrangsee, in her film debut), who mustn't be bothered.

As Nual takes a tentative stroll around the grounds, the sense of decay is palpable. She takes note of a dilapidated spirit house. Later, a hand – like The Addams Family's "Thing" – pops out of the spirit house to grab some food. There's an apparently insane crone named Grandma Erb who plays with a doll. A little girl plays hide and seek. And there's some guy digging a hole at the back of the property. Eventually Nual wanders into places that the imperious Somchit (Tassawan Seneewong Na Ayutthaya) has told her not to and is rightfully scolded.

Why is it that people in these kinds of movies go into places they shouldn't? And why the heck would Nual come to this forbidding place in the first place? That is the overarching mystery, and the way the answer is revealed is the magic of this film.

Nual is able to confide in another resident of the mansion, Choy (Visa Kongka), who explains some of the mysteries behind the place. The helpful Choy, who's the comic relief, acknowledges that, yeah, it sure is spooky here. Just check out the blood spots on the laundry, she says, likely left there by the "gut-sucking vampire". Yikes!

Meanwhile, Nual's story is told in flashbacks, showing that she met her husband, Chob, an itinerant violinist, in a country pub. But then he mysteriously disappeared. And, even more mysteriously, his face is not shown.

Nual eventually has her baby, and the tension ratchets up as the new mother is instructed to bring her child to the mistress of the house on a daily basis.

This is the first film that Wisit has directed but not written. The script is by Kongkiat Khomsiri, one of the seven-member "Ronin Team" that was credited with directing last year's supernatural gorefest Art of the Devil 2.

The colorful stylizations that were present in Wisit's Tears of the Black Tiger and Citizen Dog are absent, but it is still overflowing with period details that show one of Wisit's big influences – pioneering Thai director Rattana Pestonji. The short pub scene seems lifted directly from Rattana's 1950s drama Country Hotel. The settings are also reminiscent of Nonzee Nimibutr's Jan Dara – with more scares than sex – with a mood similar to Nang Nak, for which Wisit wrote the screenplay, so he's no stranger to ghost tales.

Steeped in Thai spirit lore, The Unseeable can also be easily (and favorably) compared to some top-flight Western chillers, but doing so would give too much away.

Ghosts do exist, one of the characters says. That is a fact you just have to accept.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.