Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Mor 6/5 Pak Mha Ta Pee

  • Released in Thai cinemas on October 3, 2013; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

Kids, mind what your teachers say and show them respect, or else they will fly into a murderous rage and after they die they will haunt you for the rest of your days.

That's the lesson to be learned in the haunted schoolhouse horror-comedy Mor Hok/Haa Pak Maa Taa Pee (มอ6/5 ปากหมา ท้าผี, a.k.a. Mor Hok Tub Ha, M. 6/5 or Make Me Shudder!). It's the first 3D offering from the 12-year-old movie studio Phranakorn. Poj Arnon, the infamous master of schlock, is credited as writer, production designer and costume designer, but, oddly not director. That credit goes to someone named Poch Apirut (but it's really Poj Arnon).

It's a headache-inducing effort, thanks to the constant, ear-splitting screams of the schoolboys as they endlessly run around shrieking like schoolgirls. You have to squint, thanks to the dimly lit school corridors, made even darker by the polarised 3D glasses. I peeked at the screen without the glasses, and things weren't much brighter, plus it was blurry.

Even though the lighting was dim, the 3D photography wasn't too bad, turning the tour of the haunted school into an immersive journey, sort of like Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Too bad Werner wasn't narrating or directing though. Perhaps one day he could do a documentary on Poj Arnon's obsession with making crappy movies.

And there were also gimmicky special effects to sweeten the 3D, like a cloud of murkily rendered bats squealing out of the screen, or a gore-drenched teacher ghost's spectre flying at the audience.

The story is about the bully leader of a gang of boys in short pants – fresh-faced youngsters cast out of Poj's talent-management stable. He likes to lead his pals on dares to explore haunted houses. They stay after school one night to explore an off-limits building on campus where years before a boy leaped to his death, distraught over his bad grades.

Soon, the ghost kid is stalking the boys, chasing them down gated-off hallways and up and down endless staircases, screaming all the way. Eventually they take a break, and the ghost boy is actually pretty friendly and talkative for a guy with a smashed head. But then they are back to running and screaming some more. And this goes on for 90 minutes.

It isn't until the last half hour or so that the movie gets interesting. After so many dark, dead-end hallways, the story starts to go somewhere, thanks to the introduction of an imperious headmistress played by none other than original Bangkok Dangerous actress "May" Pathawarin Timkul, who still has the best glowering sneer in the business.

There's a whole backstory to her character and her dealings with a couple of other teachers who are mysteriously hanging around late at night in this abandoned school building. It's a story from another time and another, better, movie.

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