Friday, January 24, 2014

Capsule reviews: Rang (The Parallel), 3AM 3D Part 2

There's probably an anti-abortion message somewhere in Rang (ร่าง, a.k.a. The Parallel) that star Paula Taylor wants you to take to heart. But the social commentary gets lost in a muddled, unevenly paced story about ghosts. Paula, the actress and model with the megawatt smile, became a mother not too long ago and is now serious as heck, and she turns in a solidly dramatic performance here. In Rang, she is drugged by her dirtbag boyfriend and taken to a back-alley abortion clinic. She somehow survives the ordeal, but loses the ability to have children. So she decides to adopt, and she settles on a creepy little girl who has a creepy little doll and a past that is as haunted as Paula's character's is. The girl has been left speechless since she witnessed her shopkeeper mother's violent death at the hands of a thug. A tussle ensued that saw her mother's face smashed into a glass shelf, cutting deep into her cheek. One second the gash is there, the next second it isn't. Then it's there again. After that, the curly-headed mother's fighting spirit apparently went to reside in the curly-headed doll. And anytime anyone threatens the little girl, the fearsome ghost mom with the curly hair and cut on her cheek is there to take care of them. A couple of comical young police detectives in skinny jeans are on the case, and somehow tie everything together. Overall, Rang isn't very scary, though there is decent gore. And the lighting is nice. Released by Golden A Entertainment, it's directed Phon Worawaranyu, previously an assistant director on films by industry veteran Tanit Jitnukul. Rated 18+ (3/5)

The clock has run out on Five Star Production's 3AM series of 3D shorts about horror happenings in the wee hours when ghosts are at their strongest. Following the far-stronger 2012 first batch, 3AM 3D Part 2 (ตีสาม คืนสาม 3D, Tee Sam Khuen Sam Sam D) is an infuriatingly unscary, unsuspenseful mess. It offers little that hasn't been done before, and gimmicky 3D effects that only make things worse. First up is Patchanon Thammajira's The Third Night, about a bunch of snot-nosed biker punks attending the funeral of one of their gang (Ray MacDonald), whose spirit is angry that his cutie-pie ex-girlfriend (Petei Hokari) has so quickly taken up with another guy, a dude named Bozo (Inthat Lieowrakwong). Angry ghost Ray hunts everyone down. The best, most-interesting segment of the three is Kirati Nakintanon's Convent, which is set in a Catholic girls' boarding school. Supanat Jittaleela, the tomboy from Yes or No, is the handsome boy-like toy who is fought over by a couple of girly-girl rivals. The action eventually leads to an abandoned chapel, where the ghost of a headless nun plays piano. Entertaining gore is served up here. Finally, there's Isara Nadee's comic segment The Offering, which is set in a Chinatown joss-paper shop and has also served to tie all three segments together. Amid papier-mâché cars, houses and other joss-paper offerings for dearly departed ancestors, a bumbling shop worker and the owner (Chirawat Wachirotranphat) are confronted by increasingly spooky happenings. The shop owner's wife (Sinjai Plengpanich) shows up to cause more confusion. Much running around and screaming ensue, but no good comes of of it. The only good thing about this segment is that it's the last one and then the final credits roll. Rated 15+ (2/5)

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