Saturday, December 29, 2007

THE HOUSE: Enter At Your Own Risk

THE HOUSE aka BANPEESINK (Thai horror)

Cast: Inthira Chaloenpura and Chamanun Wanwinwasara
Director: Monthon Arayangkoon
Time: 115 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

(Pic: Inthira, right, and a ghost)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? She has been warned not to enter The House but Shalinee (Inthira Chaloenpura) is a TV reporter assigned to make a documentary about a murder that happened six years ago. It is her duty to check out the crime scene even though a caretaker has refused to let her in. However, even from the outside, Shalinee gets the feeling that The House is haunted. She even manages to capture images of a female ghost on her video camera!

HITS & MISSES: No prizes for guessing what happens next, folks. Contrary to common sense or the need for self-preservation, Shalinee sneaks into the spooky shack at night - ALONE! My point, dear readers, is that Thai director Monthon Arayangkoon is so desperate to scare his viewers that he would conjure all sorts of nonsensical scenes to accomplish his aim. After a while, his attempts get very pathetic because the audience would be one step ahead of him. With all that Haunted House 101 stuff thrown in, you can guess what would happen next - and brace yourself for it.

"The House", also known by its Thai moniker, "Banpeesink", is based on three real-life murder cases that are all connected to a particular house near a hospital. The first case, on 18 Sept 1959, involved a nurse, Nuanchawee Patchara, who was raped, strangled and dumped in a river. The second, on 28 Sept 1999, had a woman named Jarmjuree knifed and cut up into pieces by her boyfriend; and the third, on 20 Feb 2001, involved a woman doctor whose body parts were found near a hotel in Bangkok. How the House is connected to all these cases is open to conjecture but Arayangkoon offers his own reason at the end of the movie. It is a lame one by any count.

Of course, a large part of the movie deals with reporter Shalinee's life, especially her problems with her husband Parnu, and a colleague named Shane who has the hots for her. There are elements of jealousy, spiritual possession and betrayal but these are poorly developed and they lack credibility. Many of the scenes shift so randomly that they are confusing.

Lead star Chaloenpura, who impressed Asian audiences in "Nang Nak", puts up a credible performance as an inquisitive and determined journalist. However, she is largely hampered by a weak script and poor direction that requires her to scream like a brainless schoolgirl. Still, she is the only bright spark in this horror thriller that is more to be tolerated than be thrilled about.

THE LOWDOWN: There isn't any good reason to go near this House. You have been warned.


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