Hey folks, Valkor here. When it comes to horror films, I'm always ready to step up to the challenge of having the Val-stuffings scared out of me. Lately It's been no easy feat as I've sat through my share of horrors and only a few have come up as winners such as Lake Mungo, Art of the Devil 2, Art of the Devil 3, and Grotesque. Looking back on the films I've recently reviewed, it's been awhile since I've seen a really good horror flick. And my hopes were set high when DVD "The Last Home" aka "Ladda Land", a Thai horror film directed by Sopon Sukdapisit, crossed my desk. But after watching the film… well... read on. Oh and beware some light spoilers.
Ladda Land, in my opinion, plays out like a family drama that's wrapped around a horror film. The film opens up with Thee (played by Saharath Sangkapreecha),who's setting up his new home that he'll share with his wife Parn (Piyathida Woramusik) and children Nat and Nan.
At first I thought Thee was crazy, because the opening appeared to be a little "too happy" and maybe the family was either fake or dead; especially when he starts talking to the empty chairs. Turns out they're real and that happy moment he was experiencing is gone in a flash. Why? Well, save for his son and maybe his wife, the daughter isn't too happy about the move. But he made the trek not just to have a better life for his family. But also to escape his mother-in-law, who wishes he had never married his daughter in the first place. Who wouldn't wanna escape that? However Thee is looking to make this work, and given his high paying job with a company that specializes in dietary supplements, it appears he's able to give his family the very best.
Things start to change when a Burmese maid, one who would have worked for Thee, is brutally murdered and later the house where the murder occurred is deemed haunted. This sets off a chain of spooktacular events leading up to strange sightings and Thee's neighbor's being brutally killed; mind you that family had issues long before their deaths, which mostly stemmed from the abusive husband/father. So not only does Thee have to contend with an unruly daughter, a mother in law who hates him, and a wife who might be cheating on him, but he also has to deal with ghosts and other scary things that prevents him from happily settling down in this new life.
A horror film that's light on the horror, heavy on the drama, yet has a creepy factor up the wahzoo? Sounds like we could use the TOV Breakdown to sort this through.
Ladda Land is a very different type of horror, one that I find a bit unsettling – and I don't mean that in a negative either. It's unsettling because it feels so real thanks to the performers involved. The film is very dark and it has a very creepy feel to it, even with that super happy opening. The film plays out more like a drama/thriller, with a few jump scares, but nothing that will have you diving for the covers. The ending is what sells it and it will leave you breathless – I mean… wow… just… wow!! I don't wanna go into spoiler territory, but let me say this much - the film runs kinda long, and the pacing is really slow, so you may be tempted to cut all ties and toss this film into the trash. But stick with it. It really pays off in the end. The film works best in that you see the rise and fall of Thee and his family; no matter how hard Thee tries to make things work, almost everything is against him. In addition to the story, the acting also helps carry things along Saharath is AMAZING!! I mean you really feel sorry for this guy; he just has that face throughout where you know something is wrong, but he tries to cover it up with a goofy grin. It's just so pitiful and very credible; and you know an actor is doing a great job when you're yelling at him through the screen "Quit fucking around Thee! Let these guys know who's in charge! Tell your daughter to quit the shit and tell your wife to stop fucking around!" It's crazy! But other than Saharath work, I think the family as a whole, performs quite well and very convincing.
If Ladda Land is supposed to be scary, well I'm not all that impressed. There were some scares, but not enough to keep me interested in the horror side of things. The film has a runtime of about 125 minutes, but with the way the pacing drags, it feels way, way longer.
That melted-face old woman; she freaks me out a almost as much as that meow kid in Ju-On.
Though short on the frights, I'd still recommend Ladda Land to anyone who's a fan of Thai horror or looking for something new and interesting to watch. Negativity aside, Ladda Land Is a solid film, with amazing performances, and a gripping ending that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I highly reccomend it. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give the film a 3.5. I've got another film from this director called "Coming Soon"; I doubt it's much of the same and from the description, it sounds interesting… but I've been burned before.