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August 08, 2012


Laddaland 2.jpg

Sopon Sukdapisit - 2011
Vicol Entertainment Region 3 DVD

Part of my interest in seeing Laddaland was simply because it takes placed in Chiang Mai, the Thai city I lived in for several months back between the November of 2006 through March of 2007. Between simply living in Thailand, and watching a fair number of Thai movies, what I've learned about ghosts is that if you don't bother them, they won't bother you. A more arrogant westerner might walk by a little ghost house and think that what they see is an expression of outdated superstition. I prefer to think that maybe someone knows something that I don't. In any event, I lived fairly close to the city center, so I have to assume that the ghosts there have been pretty well settled.

Laddaland takes place in an upscale suburb, with good size western style houses with Thai influence, in a gated community called Laddaland. Thee is preparing his house for his wife and family. Wife Parn, and young son, Nat, are excited by their new home. Teen daughter, Nan, is more cynical, stating that she'll stand for a family portrait in front of the new house when the mortgage is paid off. Things look rosy until that first night when a candle is accidentally knocked over, starting a fire in the couple's bedroom, followed by the unwanted visits by the black cat owned by the family next door. More ominously, a woman has been found murdered and mutilated, stuffed in the refrigerator in a house down the street.

Laddaland 1.jpg

Laddaland is closer to more western horror films, than most Thai films. Their is no explanation as such tying the presence of ghosts to anyone wrongdoing, or unfinished business, nor does anyone seek assistance from any Buddhist priests. The ghosts, when visible, are seen very fleetingly. To give a somewhat better idea, as a genre piece I would place it closer to The Sixth Sense in its depiction of the supernatural. As can be expected, it is the children who see the ghosts first, only to be challenged by disbelieving parents.

Simultaneous to this is the disintegration of Thee's life and family. Thee leverages himself not only with the purchase of the house, but other goods that he thinks he can afford. Thee's only had his good paying job for three months before committing himself to move to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. If the next door neighbors are an indication, Laddaland seems to be a magnet for people whose fortune, literally and spiritually, as run out. For Sopon Sukdapisit, the greater horror might not be the ghosts next door, but finding oneself without money and nowhere to go.

Laddaland is Sopon's second film as director. His previous film, Coming Soon was a more explicit horror film taking place mostly in a haunted movie theater. It should be noted that Sopon had a hand in the screenplays for Shutter and Alone, two of the most notable Thai horror films, Alone sadly not getting even a stateside DVD release as interest in so-called Asian Extreme movies fell out of favor with the sub-par Hollywood remakes. Also, Sopon's film garnered eight nominations from the Thailand National Film Awards, with six wins including Best Picture, and Best Screenplay for Sopon and Sopana Chaowwiwatkul.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 8, 2012 07:49 AM