Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: The Intruder (Kheaw Aa-Kaard)

  • Directed by Thanadol Nualsuth and Thammanoon Sakulbunthanom
  • Produced by Poj Arnon
  • Starring Kwankao Sawetwimol, Akara Amartayakul, Apinya Sakuljaroensuk
  • Relased in Thai cinemas on April 29, 2010; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Karma comes back to bite the innocent and the not-so-innocent in The Intruder (Kheaw Aa-Kaard, เขี้ยว อาฆาต, literally "fang feud"), a snakes-in-the-apartment thriller that is heavy on the melodrama and woefully short on camp but still entertaining for shocking body horror and snake bites that made me jump.

The action takes place in a down-at-the-heels, moldering apartment building that was built in the 1980s on the eastern edge of Bangkok in what is known locally as Nong Ngoo Hao -- the Cobra Swamp. Despite its rundown appearance and constant threat of snakes -- a vigilant guard spreads sulfur to keep the slitherers at bay -- the building is a popular dwelling for flight crews at the nearby Suvarnabhumi Airport and young hipsters griping about the poor Internet connection. There's also a family with a small child and a rock band that plays thrash metal too loudly.

Characters are briefly introduced and quickly dispensed with as the building is swiftly consumed by an all-out CGI snake invasion. Worm-shaped cobras fill the hallways, snarl the power cables and strangle the phone service. They fill an elevator car and wriggle their way under a corpses' skin.

The survivors are narrowed down a small group that tries to stay one step ahead of the snakes. Akara Amartayakul is a doctor specializing in snakebites who just happens to be visiting the building when the snake-swarm strikes. And it just so happens he used to date the building's landlady, played by Kwankao Sawetimol.

There's also the family with the little girl, whose dad has been carrying on with a young woman in the building. So there's more tension between the mom and dad.

Apinya Sakuljaroensuk is rather subdued as a cub reporter for a TV station. She has the only phone that works but won't let the others know that because she's secretly captured phone-cam video clips of the serpentine carnage and has been sending them to her producer.

And there's a crazy old mystical auntie (Wasana Chalakorn) who knows why this is all happening but is powerless to stop it.

The characters that matter have backstories that are filled out piecemeal in between meals for the snakes. The people have as much depth as the digital reptiles. And, disappointingly, there's no cool catchphrase uttered by the hero Golf Akara, who's too grim and fatalistic to let loose with any colorful lines. Have to leave that to Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane.

The best bits are the massed snake strikes. Mouths full of gleaming fangs zip in and take chunks out of a guy's arm. The cobras grow fat as the body count rises. The CGI creations are mixed here and there with the real thing. After all, something with real fangs bit a couple of the actors during the film's production, incidents that were duly reported in the media, likely at the urging of master promoter, producer, story writer, costume designer and snake-oil salesman, Poj Arnon.

In the end, The Intruder slithers toward the moralistic and takes a cynical view of the media's role in the reptilian ruckus, implicating everyone, except perhaps for anyone who paid to see the movie. The most appreciative audience for The Intruder might actually be snakes, but they don't carry cash.

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1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the movie. Two thumbs up; however, I kinda don't understand the end part.


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