Wednesday, July 11, 2018

NYAFF ’18: Premika

If you can possibly imagine an episode of Scooby-Doo with gallons of squirting blood and a human trafficking subplot then you could have an inkling of the defiantly taste-challenged tone of this Thai supernatural outing. It should also be readily asserted the ghost is very real and she wants you to sing karaoke—or else. Anyone who mangles a lyric or sings offkey dies a horrible death in Siwakorn Jarupongpa’s Premika (trailer here), which screens during the 2018 New York Asian Film Festival.

The cops call her “Premika” based on the name stitched in her fetish-style school uniform, but they really don’t care about solving her murder. They can’t even be bothered to find all her scattered body parts. That is why she is such an angry spirit. She is attached to a vintage-style karaoke machine that might look like fun, but its a nightmare for unsuspecting victims. To survive Premika’s wrath, the shallow, obnoxious guests of the resort most score at least an 80 with their performance. Fortunately, one of Thailand’s top boy bands happens to be playing for the grand opening.

Premika is mostly rather silly, albeit in a ridiculously gory kind of way, which is why the revelation of the ghostly school girl’s back story has such a Jekyll-and-Hyde whiplash effect. Most people will come out of the film with their heads spinning, wondering what the heck did they just see. This is truly a kitchen sink kind of movie, with just about everything you can think of thrown in rather chaotically.

So, who needs subtlety anyway? If you want to see some completely off-the-rails lunacy than Jarupongpa has your number. Natthacha (Gena) De Souza is also quite a wonder as Premika. She can be fierce and eerie one moment and then K.O. you with her tragic poignancy from out of nowhere, sort of like Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolfman, but not really.

Premika is not as gleefully nuts as Countdown or Dead Bite, but its not for a lack of trying. What a Thai triple feature those three films would make. Obviously, Jarupongpa’s screenplay is likely to offend many, but that is all part of its charm. Recommended for fans of the nutty and whacked-out, Premika screens Friday night (7/13), at the SVA Theatre, as part of this year’s NYAFF.