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Rating: 3 stars out of 5
If your neighbourhood is spooked with ghosts next door, across the street, and in the house where an entire family was killed, would you still stay in your home and worry about the mortgage?
Man, you’d scoot out of there so fast even the Ju On ghost would turn giddy.
But in Laddaland, the residents there seem to be stuck in Gagaland.
Because they appear to be stoned into some kind of immobilised resistance.
Particularly the main family of four – led by a dutiful breadwinner Thee (Thai singer-actor Saharat Sangkapreecha) – which starts off pretty okay but disintegrates into something resembling the Thai version of The Shining.
That’s the one, circa 1980, where Jack Nicholson went homicidal loco with an axe on his family in an isolated hotel.
The weapon of destruction here is a gun, which Thee buys to protect his family from the strange goings-on in the Desperate Housewives-style suburban enclave in Chiang Mai which they have just moved into.
Look, it’s a big, comfy house; he’s got a job; and he’s far away from his b***chy mom-in-law in Bangkok who keeps putting him down on the phone as a loser unworthy of his sweet, Christy Chung-lookalike wife Parn ((Piyathida Woramusik).
Problem is the neighbours – oh, there are so few of them in the deserted place – are not desperate housewives but desperate anti-social weirdoes who keep to themselves until things go bonkers and dead bodies end up in fridges.
Heck, even the security guard is so freaked out by a ghost at a dark street he’s long since disappeared and the guard house looks like an abandoned dump.
But still, the unfazed, disbelieving Thee drives past it as he goes to work and returns home as the honest provider for his family, despite his missus growing urgently scared and his ungrateful teen daughter being a disobedient pain in the a**.
You really want to slap the kid for being so mean to her dad.
Meanwhile, the number of residents dwindles as if everybody has vanished en-bloc.
You know I actually forgot what it is that set this haunted fest off in the first place.
It has something to do with a murdered maid, I think.
Because the optimal length for this flick would’ve been about half an hour tops, which would have made this a good tight fright considering that the studio behind it made the creepy four-tale ghost anthology, 4BIA.
Director Sophon Sakdaphisit (one of the writers of the 2004 chill classic, Shutter) obviously believes there’s enough material here for a full feature.
Well, yes, if you’re long in the tooth and want something to go on and on.
Walled communities can be pretty isolating and unnerving, especially in the remote outskirts of Thailand.
The film nails this aspect well, and the bumps in the night, shrill sound effects, sudden jolts are effective – girls screamed at the screening I was at.
But every respectable Thai horror-meister is a natural with these scare tactics now.
I’m giving this flick three stars solely on this basis – that people get spooked – but not on the story though.
I like the idea of making Thee, the main man, look calmingly human with personal failings within the supernatural melee around him.
He’s an admirable man who never calls it quits on his family.
But dude, we’re talking about ghosts here.
How dumb is this guy?
Hey Mr Idiot, why don’t you bloody run?