Saturday, February 5, 2011

Horror Film Review

Vengeance (2006):  Action/horror/fantasy flick out of Thailand.  Yes, you will need to deal with the subtitles.  So what's it all about?  Looking at the movie poster, you'd think it would be a fairly simple matter.  Indeed, when my son stopped by and I was 40 minutes in, I summed it up by saying, "Cops are chasing some bad guys into a forbidden jungle and they're getting killed off by some interesting critters."  Turns out, it's not so simple.

The head cop's got some daddy issues we learn about in a flashback.  As a kid, he and his father's friend escaped from this crazy cursed jungle.  His father didn't make it.  Here's where I got confused.  I'll lay it out for you.  The father and the friend were criminals, had stolen a magic coin from a village (it's a big-ass coin, by the way).  The friend's arrested and later becomes a revered monk in a town near the jungle (not the village).  Penance, I guess.  Anyway, the kid, now hot-shot cop, trails the bad guys to this town.  Bad guys kill the monk and take the big-ass coin he'd been holding on to.  The cops trail them into the jungle.  There's a shoot-out early on in the chase, but after that...things get weird.

Swarms of carnivorous tiger wasps, swarms of carnivorous lizards, swarms of beautiful women...who turn out to be carnivorous, and a snake the size of a locomotive compose most of the weirdness.  The group run into two mysterious women who help them and take them to their village.  Yes, the coinless village.  Seems that the village is cursed, its inhabitants morph into vampires every full moon.  Vampires with wings that look like autumn leaves.  Still with me?  Okay...the coin, we learn, allows whoever returns it to its slot in the ground the ability to travel back in time.  Keep in mind that at this point, most everyone's dead so head cop decides to travel back to stop everything from happening in the first place.  I don't think what happens is what he had in mind.


Acting:  Uniformly over the top.  The few actors that take a more subdued approach give the most effective performances.  One of the cops, Chet (the cute one), is really good.  But following the unwritten rule that if you're a cute guy you must die, Chet doesn't last very long. 
Story:  It bites off more than it can chew.  A classic example of not knowing what it wants to be, and that's a shame. 
Direction:  Some good action sequences and inventive camera work lift it above the norm.  Production Values:  I've said it before and I'll say it again, Thai films are incredibly professional.  Easily on par with Hollywood.  The location scenery is gorgeous.  Reminded a little of LostGore/FX:  Pretty tame, blood-wise.  There is one awesome bit with the tiger wasps.  The train-sized snake is too obviously CGI.  It's better than what you'd see on the SyFy Channel, but not by much.  Ending:  Asian horror is like a box of never know what you're going to get.  Sadly, though, after we're bombarded with sudden revelations regarding the village's curse and the time travel coin, the ending loses it's intended impact.  I will say that though not everyone dies, it's not a terribly happy climax.
Verdict:  Should you watch it?  If a movie is from Thailand, you shouldn't ever have to ask.  Granted, Vengeance isn't among the best I've seen, but it's so much better than most.

My Rating:  3 out of 5

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