Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Thongsuk 13 (Long Weekend)

  • Directed by Taweewat Wantha
  • Starring Chinnawut Intarakusin, Cheeranat Yusanon, Acharanat Ariyaritwikol, Busarin Yokpraipan, Gitlapat Garasutraiwan, Sean Jindachot
  • Released in Thai cinemas on January 31, 2013; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 4/5

They're back. And by they, I mean that wild bunch that used to run the now-shuttered Film Bangkok studio, which produced such claw-your-eyes-out they're-so-good spectacles as the candy-coloured western Tears of the Black Tiger and the zombie comedy SARS Wars.

Resurrected as Wave Pictures by BEC-Tero's Maleenont family, one of the brains behind the new studio is former Film Bangkok honcho Adirek "Uncle" Watleelak, who co-produces the first release, Thongsuk 13 (ทองสุก 13, a.k.a. Long Weekend). In addition to sharing producing and editing credit, Uncle co-wrote the movie with SARS Wars director Taweewat Wantha and screenwriters Sommai Lertulan and Eakasit Thairatana.

Taweewat's trademark outrageousness is toned down only a bit for this teen slasher-thriller, and it has nearly that same unstoppable energy as his SARS Wars or the sci-fi farce The Sperm. Just when you think things can't get any crazier, they do. Only instead of humor, Taweewat taps into that energy for breathless, non-stop scares. During the last half of the movie, there is no let up, save for a humorous moment in which one of the characters is dispatched with a long-tail boat propeller. He's dead already and doesn't want to die again. "I'm dead enough," he laments as the blades hack into his head.

The story involves six teenagers who head to mysterious isolated island for a weekend of partying. Trouble is, the island has a dark and ancient history, of a sacrificial rite held during the so-called "blood moon" that is meant to keep the "devouring ghost" at bay. And of course, these kids are visiting the island during that very time.

But let's back up a bit, to the boyhood of the title character Thongsuk. He was always not quite right and a bit sickly. It's in the school infirmary where he's resting and his best friend Nam comes with a headache. Thongsuk, wanting to impress the girl, has her take off his amulet necklace, which is supposed to ward off ghosts. She does so and Thongsuk immediately lapses into a ghost-caused seizure and bangs his head on the bedframe. From then on, because of his head injury, Thongsuk is even more off and is consequently bullied by the other kids. Only Nam defends him.

So when Nam (Cheeranat Yusanon), the guys Jack (Acharanat Ariyaritwikol) and Boi (Sean Jindachot) and the lipstick lesbian girlfriends Beam (Busarin Yokpraipan) and Pui (Gitlapat Garasutraiwan) make plans to go to the island without Thongsuk (Chinnawut Intarakusin), Thongsuk schemes to somehow surprise them.

Instead, everyone is surprised, thanks to the evil spirits on the island and Thongsuk being a conduit for them.

What follows is the usual setup of these types of teen-slasher movies in which the hedonistic characters get what's coming to them as they are possessed, picked off or devoured one by one by a mysterious force. Blood and gore fly as grey, smoky CGI baddies haunt the kids. It's like Cabin in the Woods, though less tongue-in-cheek. Backwards-bending characters bring to mind the current Hollywood hit horror Mama.

Nam emerges as the heroine, who must at all costs keep a candle burning to ward off the bad spirits and survive the night.

Of course there's a red herring or two to put you and Nam off the scent. Let's just say if you're in a horror movie and Wonderful Town's Anchalee Saisoontorn turns up as your mother, you might not want to trust her.

This first release from Wave Pictures could possibly mark a return to the crazy old energy Thai films had in the late 1990s and early 2000s, back when I got interested in Thai films. Thongsuk 13 opened at No 1 at the Thai box office but with only middling takings of 12.7 million baht. Hopefully that won't deter Wave Pictures from pressing on.

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