Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Dark Flight 407

  • Directed by Isara Nadee
  • Starring Marsha Vadhanapanich, Peter Knight, Poramet Noi-um, Anchalee Hassadivichit, X Thiti, Namo Tongkumnerd
  • Released in Thai cinemas on March 22, 2012; rated G
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

The cliches of airline disaster movies – so hilariously parodied in Airplane!, which holds up to repeated viewings – are trotted out for the horror genre in Dark Flight 407 (407 เที่ยวบินผี, 407 Tiawbin Phee), which you'd probably only want to watch once.

Touted as the first Thai film to actually be filmed in stereoscopic 3D, Dark Flight 407, a.k.a. Dark Flight 3D, suffers from uneven pacing and non-scary moments like frightened characters shrieking annoyingly to booming noises offscreen. When will filmmakers ever realize that seeing people scared onscreen doesn't necessarily mean audiences are going to feel the fright?

Released by Five Star Production, it's directed by Isara Nadee, one of the "Ronin Team" from Art of the Devil 2. Another "Ronin Team" member, Kongkiat Khomsiri, is one of the screenwriters. But there are actually three or four writers credited, which points to a possible reason for the tonal shifts and lack of cohesion.

Marsha Vadhanapanich, who memorably played twins in the GTH ghost thriller Alone a few years back, stars in Dark Flight. She's a flight attendant with a troubled past who's back on the job after a mysterious incident years before. Unfortunately, she isn't given much to do, other than rock a flight attendant's uniform and weird hair braid wrapped around her forehead. She mostly alternates between being freaked out and quiet pensiveness. But mainly, she's simply upstaged by a parade of screaming passengers and various CGI special effects.

The supporting cast are the usual folks you'll see on airline flights in Thailand. There's the effeminate male flight attendant (singer X Thiti), a dreadlocked backpacker Thai dude (Namo Tongkumnerd), a scantily dressed, culturally clueless young Hong Kong woman (Sisangian Siharat), an old lady who's scared of flying, a pot-bellied foreigner sex tourist, a foreign couple and a well-to-do Thai family – a bossy, complaining wife (Anchalee Hassadivichit) and her henpecked husband (Poramet Noi-um). Their teenage daughter (Patree Taptong) is obsessed with her iPad's flight-simulator game – how convenient. Oh, there's also a Buddhist monk who comes in handy.

And a member of the ground crew (Peter Knight) is trapped in the baggage compartment when the plane takes off. It just so happens he has a past with Marsha's character, which is supposed to create instant chemistry between the two.

They are travelling on a Boeing 737, which even after a new paint job looks pretty worn. Inside is the kind of 737 layout you'll only find on an earthbound airplane movie set – an aisle wide enough to roll two drinks carts down, two, not three, rows of seats on each side with tons of elbow room and two, curtained-off compartments. Also, the huge galley looks like it's been transplanted from a 747.

The flight attendants do their safety demonstration as a dance to pumping techno music that puts most of the passengers in a good mood. It's one bright spot of the movie.

Finally, with the new livery of Sunshine Airways (how ironic), Flight SA 407 takes off from Suvarnabhumi Airport under ominously inky-black skies.

The flight starts out fairly routine, with the Hong Kong girl popping open her laptop to watch Monrak Transistor – nice of Five Star to remind us of the good films they produced.

But then weird stuff starts happening. A little kid rolls a ball down that wide aisle at the teenager. Passengers see other passengers who aren't really there. Bloody footsteps are left behind by a stewardess and then disappear. The farang sex tourist acts like he's been possessed by the devil.

Pretty soon it becomes obvious that the plane is haunted. The exterior of the craft looks like it's been through Hell and the wiring and instruments appear as if they've been rotting in the jungle for several years.

After much running around and screaming by the passengers and flight crew, the killing begins, and here's where Anchalee Hassadivichit, playing the bitchy rich mother, steals the movie as a woman gone mad. Decent gore effects, splatter and scary make-up jobs on the ghost flight crew are also highlights during this act.

But any feeling of tension or suspense instead turns to frustration amid all the shrieking, confusion and 3D gimmickry. That moment when the passengers and crew need to yell "Let's roll!" and storm the cockpit becomes a long, dragged-out slog.

And, a bit confusingly, the emergency landing sequence is milked for laughs – perhaps some unintentional – with the eventual stand-in pilot wildly yanking on levers and smashing panels. On the ground, the head of Phuket's airport bureaucratically introduces himself with his long rank and title and demands the same from the person calling him before he'll offer any assistance.

It seems that plane never will land safely, and perhaps it shouldn't, because that would mean it might take off again on another wild, ghostly ride through the skies.

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  1. Is a good review you had made =) Well , i got freaked out and i will not watch any horror movies, but the story is sad though at the end

  2. Was very disappointed with the movie ... esp Marsha performance! She did great in Alone ...

  3. at the beginning of the scene what's the name of a flight steward girl talking of a captain?


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