LADDALAND - More of a Psychological Thriller
LADDALAND (supernatural thriller in Thai)
Cast: Saharat Sangkapreechat, Piyathida Woramuksik, Suthatta Udomsil and Atipit Chutiwatkajornchai
Director: Sophon Sakdaphisit
Screenplay by Sophon Sakdaphisit
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: LaddaLand is the second feature directed by Sophon Sakdaphisit, the guy who co-wrote such popular Thai horrors as Alone and Shutter. His feature debut was Coming Soon, a somewhat derivative film-within-a-film released in 2009. LaddaLand, however, shows a more matured Sakdaphisit trying his hand at the supernatural thriller instead of the usual horror genre.
His LaddaLand aims to be like Hitchcock in style - but with mixed results.
SYNOPSIS: Theera (Saharat Sangkapreecha) is excited about his new house in a gated community called LaddaLand in Chiang Mai. He spares no expense to decorate it so that his family - wife Parn (Piyathida Woramusik), daughter Nan (Suthatta Udomsil, pic, right) and son Nat (Atipit Chutiwatkajornchai) - would feel welcome. Indeed, he has uprooted them from their apartment in Bangkok, hoping to spend more time together as a happy family. Teenager Nan, however, resents her new home and is unhappy about having to leave her grandmother who has brought her up.
And before Theera and Parn can begin to cultivate familial bonds, the news of a gruesome murder of a Burmese maid rocks the neighbourhood - and somehow sends Theera on a downward spiral to despair.
HITS & MISSES: Many in the audience will be able to relate to Theera's excitement of moving into a spanking new house in a gated resort. This makes the 'horrors' he is about to face seem more profound and destructive. I am glad that Sakdaphisit has resisted the temptation to film creaking doors and dripping faucets - the staple of haunted house flicks, although he relies heavily on sudden loud blasts on the speakers to jolt us. However, LaddaLand is not about supernatural horror or scary ghosts although there are some of them here.
It is about how a seemingly 'normal' suburban family slowly disintegrates and self-destructs! In this department, a lot has to do with character portrayal and performance. As a caring father, Sangkapreechat has the audience rooting for him right from the start but he is not commanding enough to carry the show. His Theera is overbearing and mule-headed and some of the things he does makes no sense. This is because they are just badly written or contrived by Sakdaphisit and they take away much of the thunder (and realism) from the story. Woramuksik (pic, left) is credible enough as the long-suffering wife and the kid stars are good supports. However, as a thriller, LaddaLand is weak, with lots of red herrings but little in terms of real scares.
THE LOWDOWN: Mostly for dating couples.