Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: Lud 4 Lud

  • Directed by Ekkasith Thairath, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Phawat Panangkasiri, Chookiat Sakveerakul
  • Starring Alex Rendel, Pakorn Chatborirak, Ananda Everingham, Alice Tsoi
  • Released in Thai cinemas on January 20, 2011; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating 3/5

Directors Chookiat Sakveerakul, Kongkiat Khomsiri and Phawat Panangkasiri bring their own styles to stories scripted or co-scripted by thriller writer Ekkasith Thairath, who rounds out the foursome with a directorial debut of his own in Sahamongkol Film International’s horror omnibus Lud See Lud (หลุด 4 หลุด).

Ekkasith, writer of comic books and such films as 13 Game Sayong (13 Game of Death), Body Sop 19 and Who R U, offers Grian Laang Lok (Clean-up Day), a short-but-sweet manga-style teaser to start things off.

It stars Alexander Rendel, the young actor who played a scared little boy in Chookiat’s 2004 debut feature Pisaj (Evil). He’s one of a group of guys hanging out, bemoaning the world’s overpopulation. Ironically, they’re sipping coffee at one of Bangkok’s posh and trendy neighborhood malls – places that would cease to exist if there were no people.

Yet they still think a virus would be a great way to end the world – or maybe not, as they soon discover when they’re drowning in the chocolate-syrup blood that’s coming out of their noses.

Ekkasith also manages to chastise people who leave their cell-phones on during movies. Turn it off and you’ll foil his plans, and that’s a good thing.

There's something sickening about this brief opening segment I couldn't quite put my finger on. I found out later it was all one take. The unblinking camera was the reason for my slight nausea.

Kongkiat, who previously helmed Five Star’s Slice and Muay Thai Chaiya and had a hand in the Art of the Devil series, directs the darkly comic Ran Kong Kwan Peua Kon Tee Kun Gliat (The Gift Shop for the Ones You Hate).

Pakorn “Boy” Chatborirak stars as an office worker who’s just been promoted to manager, and he receives congratulatory gifts that aren’t all that nice. One gag gift is an umbrella with a lightning rod built in. There’s also an iPad, which would be great if the touchscreen weren’t dusted with poison. Another present kills Boy’s cat.

Phawat, directing Keun Jit Lut (Eerie Nights), brings the same film-noir touch as in last year’s Buddhist crime thriller Nak Prok (Shadow of the Naga). It’s a similar tale too, about three criminals on the run. They hide out in a creepy old hospital.

The trio is led by Ananda Everingham, still in his angry, bad-ass Red Eagle mode. He shouts and brandishes his pistol, scaring his two cohorts. Bad karma eventually catches up with the trio, complete with a "gotcha" ending.

Finally, 13 Game Sayong and Love of Siam director Chookiat directs the colourful all-out comedy segment Hoo Aa Gong, about a wacky Thai-Chinese family dealing with the spirit of their grandfather. On his deathbed, the ancient patriarch asked that there be no cremation nor burial, that instead his body would be preserved “until ...”

His words trailed off, and years later the old man’s dried-out corpse still rests in bed in his ancestral home, scaring off superstitious maids. To watch after grandfather, all the family’s four grandchildren are brought in to live with him.

There’s the eldest daughter (Alice Tsoi), a masturbation-addicted younger brother, the effeminate brother who wears curlers and a flowery nightie but swears he’s not gay, the brainy asshole doctor brother and the little sister who does nothing but play with her BlackBerry.

Like most other horror comedies, there are jumps and scares and much running around and screaming, even though things aren’t really all that scary. But the antics, which included the sex-starved sibling being humped by his dead granddad, had viewers busting their guts. A sweet and cute ending calms things down.

Produced by Prachya Pinkaew’s Baa-Ram-Ewe studio, Lud 4 Lud follows more or less the same formula as GTH’s successful Phobia series, 2008’s See Phrang and 2009’s Haa Phrang, which got together that studio’s top directors.

Sahamongkol got in on the act with 2009’s Maha’lai Sayong Kwan (Haunted Universities), which was four stories about haunted schools. Phranakorn Production compiled topical thriller shorts in last year’s Tai Hong.

Lud See Lud shows that the trend hasn’t yet played out, nor is it likely to as long as the studios have acclaimed directors willing to participate in such projects and top actors who will draw the big crowds.

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