Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Second Sight (Jit-Sam-Phas)

  • Directed by Pornchai Hongrattaporn
  • Starring Nawat Kulratanarat, Rhatha Pho-ngam, Wiraporn Jiravechsoontornkul, Anon Saisangcharn
  • Released in Thai cinemas on August 22, 2013; rated G
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Even if you believe in ghosts, you'll need extra-strength cables on your suspension of disbelief to get through Second Sight (จิตสัมผัส, Jit-Sam-Phas), the latest 3D horror offering from the venerable studio Five Star Production.

Leaden pacing and an inevitable timeworn plot twist you can see coming from light years away are somewhat redeemed by colorful director Pornchai Hongrattaporn's experience with such comedies as Bangkok Loco and Princess Tukky Sells Frogs. His first time doing 3D horror, he adds a bit of humor in places to lighten things up.

The 3D effects are gimmicky and mostly straight CGI nonsense, but it's all in the spirit of fun.

The story involves young defense lawyer Jate (Nawat Kulratanarat) whose psychic powers allow him to see the bad karma of others and the ghosts that surround them. If he concentrates real hard, he can foresee bad things about to happen. His powers have made him a very rich and a little bit cocky.

"You can escape justice, but you can't escape your karma," he tells a scumbag client who is haunted by the ghost of a schoolgirl he killed.

Later on, worlds collide as Jate is driving his yellow Mercedes convertible over the Rama VIII bridge and the scumbag client passes him in his own flashy convertible. He's got a young woman in the passenger seat with her head ducked over the gearshift. The ghost girl is on the driver's side floorboard. Jate uses his powers and avoids a wreck that creates more ghosts. But the wreck also causes another fatal mishap that gains him a new client. And here Second Sight becomes a sort-of "social problem" movie, commenting on the ripped-from-the-headlines issue of rich and well-connected young drivers at the center of fatal wrecks escaping any prosecution.

The new client is Kaew ("Mild" Wiraporn Jiravechsoontornkul), the foster daughter of a muckety-muck. A pouty young woman, she eventually develops a powerful attraction for her lawyer.

Jate's wife Jum (Rhatha Pho-ngam) wishes he wouldn't take the case and is jealous of the time his spends with his new client.

The proceedings pretty well drag down from this point.

So thank goodness rock singer Anon "Poo Blackhead" Saisangcharn turns up as a maniacally grinning police detective. He has snake spirits all around him, thanks to his habit of eating the slithering reptiles, despite Jate's warnings that their souls are too powerful and will eventually devour him. The CGI serpents hiss and jump off the screen as they encircle Poo's body, and attack him in an elevator that's boarded from the 13th floor. It's the best part of the movie.

More CGI weirdness comes from a childhood flashback, in which a woman falls from a balcony and is attacked by flying catfish.

Another fun bit involves Jate's secretary, who bends over his desk and has 3D cleavage popping out of her low-cut blouse. Jate tells her to cover up and wear a turtleneck. She does next time we see her, but it's a slinky, snug-fitting black number that shows off all her curves. It's worth it to see it in 3D.

The dead are actually more entertaining. They are the ghosts of the folks killed in the car wrecks, including a taxi driver and his two passengers, some random guy hanging around at the office and a bride and groom and their wedding photographer.

Rhatha Pho-ngam is given a role where she can show off her talents as a singer-songwriter. She tinkles away on a grand piano composing tunes alone in her grand home, but finds herself haunted by ghosts, who bang out hellacious tune. Later, the Only God Forgives and Jan Dara remake star goes nude for a scary bloody shower scene, but is covered by strategically placed frosted glass. It is a G-rated horror movie, after all.

Jate continues to bond with his young client, taking her to a gaudy Chinese temple to lay in a coffin in an attempt to appease the spirits haunting her. The place is presided over by a monk (Kowit Wattanakul) who advises Jate to take a good look in the mirror at himself.

More and more of the connection between Jate and Kaew is exposed, with the ultimate revelation being that Jate's own bad karma has finally caught up with him.

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