Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Coffin

So What's It Like Lying Inside?

Director Ekachai Uekrongtham reunites with actor Ananda Everingham to move from the red light district of Singapore's Geylang back to Thailand to partake in the bizzare Thai ritual of having oneself laid in a coffin to get rid of bad karma. It seems that all the karma in the world are on a zero sum equation, and what you try to get rid of, get translated into unwanted supernatural attention and transferred elsewhere where you least expected.

On paper and from the trailers, the premise is rich for plenty of scare opportunities to be milked. Alas the star pairing of Karen Mok and Ananda Everingham is too overrated, as both only share one scene together, and a short one at that. The story also seemed a tad weak and filled with too many draggy scenes which supposedly tries to build tension and anticipation, but falls flat on its face. And don't get me started on the dialogue, as it contains some of the most cringeworthy lines that it's more interesting just sitting there just watching paint dry.

Don't get me wrong though, there were still some genuinely scary moments, of just 2 scenes which almost guarantees your heart skipping a beat. But that's it. You wait for almost an hour for something to make your hair stand on ends, and they come fast and furious. And too bad that after that the entire film went flaccid after some solid spurts as it plodded along to a boring last act which tried to rationalize the strange happenings a little too much that it just sucks out whatever soul the movie has confidently built up from that crescendo of horrific scenes.

Horrror movies are no stranger to Ananda Everingham, having been introduced to audiences through the superb Thai horror film Shutter. But unfortunately even his acting chops can't lift his mediocre character Chris out from the doldrums, who decided to get into the coffin to try and save his comatose girlfriend, but as suggested in the film but with the potential not followed through, the coffin used might not be a brand new one and could contain some unclean elements in it. While he doesn't have some of the scariest scenes in the film, what he did have was a scene quite powerful in itself toward the end to show off some of his dramatic flair.

Karen Mok has instead demonstrated that she's no scream queen, try as she might. Her portrayal of the troubled Su, who fled to Bangkok with her wedding looming on the horizon because she discovered she's suffering from lung cancer, doesn't provide that air of vulnerability, and her alpha-female persona just gives you the feeling that she'll pull through whatever supernatural trials and tribulations the story throws at her. She got the luck of the draw though with the scariest moments in the movie happening to her character, but too bad these were one off scenes that became the oddity in a horror movie caught up with trying to be innovative, but yet negated by feeling the necessity to explain everything verbatim.

If not for its rare handful of scares, some cheap, The Coffin should stay well buried six feet under, a pity given the premise that was so full of potential.

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