Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Countdown

  • Directed by Nattawat Poonpiriya
  • Starring Pachara Chirathivat, Patarasaya Krueasuwansiri, Jarinporn Junkiet, David Asavanond
  • Released in Thai cinemas on December 20, 2012; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

Three dope-smoking Thai hipsters living in New York City get what's coming to them in the New Year's Eve thriller Countdown (เคาท์ดาวน์), which features a drug pusher named Jesus dealing in retribution.

It's a gritty Rated 18+ story that's a departure of sorts for studio GTH, which usually focuses on feel-good stories involving squeaky clean teens. But there are of course consequences for this unholy trio of party animals, which makes it okay in the eyes of the studio execs and censors.

Director Nattawat Poonpiriya is in his big-studio debut, remaking his 45-minute short that screened as part of the Digital Forum at the Thai Short Film and Video Festival in 2010.

Produced by Jira Maligool, the expanded story delves more into the motivations and backgrounds of the three hipsters, portrayed by GTH stock-company players Pachara Chirathivat, Patarasaya Krueasuwansiri and Jarinporn Junkiet. David Asavanond reprises his role from the original short, back in the long hair and goatee for his indelible performance as the unhinged Jesus ("that's Hay-Seuss, genius").

Exterior shots establish that the story is set in the Big Apple, but most of the action takes place in the confines of an apartment, so it really could be anywhere – maybe even Bangkok.

Patchara is Jack, a feckless rich kid who is supposed to be enrolled in a university. His short-haired girlfriend is Bee (Jarinporn), a new arrival in the city who is there for mysterious circumstances. They share an apartment with the floosie Pam (Peak Patarasaya) and her little Pomeranian. She's the only real student among them, studying fashion design, but is having problems of her own.

It's New Year's Eve, and Jack wants to throw a party. His usual dealer, a fellow Thai who lives downstairs, is getting out of the business. But, conveniently, the weed guy's source has a business card. It's been torn up, but Jack manages to piece most of it back together.

Just before the stroke of midnight, Jesus arrives. The deal is quickly done, but the dealer is one of those talkative guys who wants to linger. His animated manner of conversation quickly grows old and Jack tries to pay him and get him to leave. But Jesus has other plans, and he pulls out a Bible. This causes hesitation from the three Thais until he opens it up to reveal a hollowed-out space filled with specially treated marijuana joints.

Tripping out on Sherm, Jack brings out a nail gun he acquired earlier in the evening, and uses it for target practice. The proceedings then turn increasingly hellish, with the devilish Jesus cornering the three in their bathroom and making them confess their sins. Not even the dog is safe. Maybe Jesus really is Christ. He knows so much, including how to speak fluent Thai. That nail gun comes back into play, just because the symbolism is too obvious to ignore.

There are also allusions to a recent high-profile traffic-death case from the Thai press.

And there was a good place to end the movie on an atypical dark note, with a karmic lesson learned once and for all.

But in typical GTH fashion, the punch is pulled, the sun shines and an indie-rock soundtrack plays to make sure movie-goers leave with smiles on their faces.

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  1. I'm excited about this one though.

  2. I want to see this one, but I might need a spoiler alert... does the pomeranian make it out alive? :(

  3. the dog lives lol kinda... when does this movie come out on dvd?

  4. GTH doesn't just do feel-good teen dramas~ Some of the most prolific Thai horrors known from across the world are from them too. e.g. Shutter (even remade into a Hollywood version), Alone (rights secured by Hollywood, Philippines' Guni-Guni was inspired by it), 4bia and Phobia 2, Coming Soon and Laddaland.


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