Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Tai Hong Tai Hian

  • Directed by Thammanoon Sakulbunthanom, Achira Nokthet, Poj Arnon, Thanadol Nualsuth
  • Starring Pimchanok Luewisetphaibun, Chotwutthi Bunyasit, Natpassara Adulyamethasiri, Pharunyoo Rotchanawutthitham, Charm Osathanond, Charlie Trairat, Jazz Chuenchuen, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Oranut Unsawat, Phongsakon Chaisuriya, Nick Kunatip Pinpradab, Pichaya Nitipaisankul, Manatnan Phanloetwongsakun
  • Released in Thai cinemas on February 6, 2014; rated 18+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5

Poj Arnon has rounded up another batch of directors for yet another horror omnibus, Tai Hong Tai Hian (ตายโหงตายเฮี้ยน), four sleazy ghost stories inspired by pulpy true-crime cases. It's a follow-up to a similar 2010 project by Poj, Tai Hong, a.k.a. Die a Violent Death.

The yarns involve one of Thailand's notoriously dangerous public-transport minivans plunging from an elevated expressway, murdered women in the sewer of a brothel, a body stuffed into a hotel room's air-conditioning vent and a young man who leaves the monkhood to seek revenge.

The results are mixed, but the biggest problem has to do with slow pacing. With four stories crammed into just under two hours, they should move a bit faster, but it takes them forever to get going.

Each segment is themed according to numbers, 14, 16, 15 and 13, which are referenced by such things as a button worn by a brothel worker, the room number in a run-down hotel or a record spinning a lullaby to lovers.

Seemingly long silences underline the sluggish pace of the first entry Tok Tangduan, about the falling minivan. The segment, directed by Thammanoon Sakulbunthanom (The Intruder), also suffers from an over-reliance on phones to tell the story, but that's probably intentional because a smartphone plays a vital role in the van plunge. A young woman is leaving the office late. A guy has been calling and texting her, while he's driving his fast red car. But then he's not there, forcing the girl to take the "last van of the evening". The phone messages persist and the surroundings in the van become increasingly spooky until it finally becomes clear that karma has caught up with the young lady, portrayed by Pimchanok "Bai Fern" Luewisetphaibun, and she is on her last ride.

The strongest segment, Tha Lor Soi 9, about the brothel, provides a bit of comic relief. Fan Chan kid star Charlie Trairat is one of a trio of guys who head to the place. His buddy wants to select girl No. 16 for the night, but they run into trouble, mainly from the house's strong-armed transgender madame, hilariously portrayed by transgender actor-director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit. Charlie and another of his pals then end up handcuffed to another customer, played by young comic actor Jazz Chuenchuen. They end up in a sewer that's filled with bodies, and the guy they are handcuffed to is actually a ghost. Decent makeup effects are another highlight of this segment, which is directed by Achira Nokthet, the production designer on Tanwarin's It Gets Better.

Poj himself chips in with the third entry, Pee Nai Chong Ae. It has a tattooed guitar-toting rock 'n' roller (Pharunyoo Rotchanawutthitham) checking into a fleabag hotel, but there's something wrong with the air-con. Beauty-pageant queen Charm Osathanond provides eye candy before she becomes part of the ductwork.

The finale by Thanadol Nualsuth (The Intruder) is an exasperatingly confusing revenge tale. With a chronology that was put in a blender and never put back together, Gam ("bad karma") is very difficult to follow. From what I could piece together, "Golf" Pichaya Nitipaisankul had a falling out with his psycho girlfriend, played by Manatnan "Donut" Phanloetwongsakun, and then entered the monkhood. But she kept hounding him, so he left the monkhood, tracked her down and killed her. Or maybe he killed her and then became a monk? The suspense comes from the spot of bother he runs into while trying to dispose of the body. There's a cameo by a famous leading man who was likely just hanging around the set. He all-too-briefly adds dramatic heft to the segment, and very nearly saves it.

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  1. Actually, the last story is not confusing. Golf (Nont) and Donut (Ploy) were together. But his family asked him to be a monk (this is according to what he told Ploy). Then, she kept going to the pagoda to meet him and beg him to come back because she cannot live alone. Finally he gave in and leave monkhood and go back to her. But then one day he found out she's pregnant wz else's child. He was really hurt and angry and he killed her.


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