Thursday, May 25, 2023

Cracked, Thai Horror

Maybe Ruja's famous artist father Pakorn used lead-based paint. For some reason, his most notorious paintings seem to kill their owners. Technically, they are hers now, but she cannot wait to sell them, for several reasons. Her daughter Rachel urgently needs eye surgery, but she is also just plain uncomfortable having them around. She has just cause to be uneasy in Surapong Ploensang’s Cracked, which releases tomorrow on VOD.

Even after her husband’s death, Ruja wanted nothing to do with her father. Collectors might think he was a genius, but she knows he was a sadistic jerk. She can’t remember all the details, but she knows he was bad. Nevertheless, she needs the inheritance when his dealer, Wichai, informs her of Pakorn’s death.

Rather ominously, a related pair of late career masterworks were returned to the estate after the owner’s family-annihilation-suicide. Ruja won’t even let Rachel in her dad’s studio, even before she sees the sexually suggestive portraits of his late model, Prang. To maximize the re-sale value, Wichai’s son, Tim restores the cracking areas. As he fiddles with the canvas, he finds evidence of hidden portraits underneath Prang, which intrigue him considerably more than Ruja. Intuitively, she suspects the paints are related to the supernatural forces that have been harassing her and Rachel.

(as in chipping paint) is a lot like many other Thai and Southeast Asian horror films, but Ploensang’s execution is super-effective. The film oozes atmosphere, thanks in large measure to some terrific art and scenery design. The creepy old manor is a perfect horror movie setting and the pair of paintings look like they radiate pure evil.

The ensemble cast always has a shared talent for unhinged behavior, especially Byron Bishop as Pakorn (in flashbacks) and Jim-Kumkanit Khumkrong as Auntie Da, the suspicious housekeeper. Chayanit Chnsangavei freaks out convincingly as Ruja and little Nina Nutthacha Jessica Padova is maybe a little too believably traumatized as Rachel.

Technically, this is a Thai-Korean co-production, but if a Martian asked you for a perfect representative Thai horror movie,
Cracked would be a strong contender. It always seems to be raining in this world and the sun only shines for an hour a day. For horror audiences, these elements all work together quite nicely. Highly recommended for genre fans, Cracked releases tomorrow (5/26) on VOD.