Siam Square (Film Review)

What is busiest during the day, usually morphs into the creepiest at night. And so with Siam Square, Phairat Khumwan conjures an urban legend of a missing girl who haunts the grounds at night, forever searching for her way out.

I’m sure there’s a big life lesson here, ending with a big, “moral of the story is…”

Sadly, I’m not sure what that is.

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The horror flick is checkered, and in this case, only rook(ies) are in play. Khumwan’s effort to thread a complex story of friendship, superstition and love is marred by inept acting, awkward scripting, clumsy edits and flat characters. It comes across as confused as the perpetual expression on the actors themselves.

May (Isaya Horsuwan) and Jublek (Lew Morakot) are best friends. I think. They seem to share a close relationship but the film starts them off quarrelling every time they meet. During a tuition class at Key Building one night, Jublek lashes out at May, complaining that she is self-absorbed, before breaking off their friendship. May’s bewildered expression says it all.

In the midst of this, their classmates (again, I think) comprising of Terk, Moowan, Mon, Newton, Pond, Fern, Meen (Thanabodee Jaiyen, Purim Ratanaruangwatana, Nattasit Kotimanaswanich, Atikhun Adulpokatorn, Manapat Techakampu, Thanyawee Chunhaswasdikul, Anongnart Yusanont) get somehow entangled in their affairs when a mysterious girl Nid (Ploy Sornnarin) appears, along with ghostly sightings of the rumoured missing Siam Square girl.

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What follows, I’ve yet to figure out. There’s some flirting that stops for no reason. There’s some life philosophy about who we are if we are no longer what we do. There’s some wistful looks and furtive glances for no real reason. And there’s lots of dreams. Lots and lots of them.

It’s hard to choose between Siam Square’s biggest failing. Is it Horsuwan’s listless acting throughout the two hours? Or is it the under-developed characters stacked up against an overly-convoluted storyline?  The characters seem to have motivations only lasting a scene, before veering off totally in another direction the next time they appear.

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We know there’s nothing normal about Sornnarin’s Ploy, but what is more horrifying is her constant quivering expression of helplessness – even when she is angry. Is she the ghost? Is she not? Most importantly – what the heck does she want? By the end of the movie, the viewer is none the wiser.

I wish there was a payoff. This might come about if the students had a history, one only hinted at in a slow-mo 5-second shot near the end, of them laughing as a group. But when the finale comes and they have a showdown, the group remains as scattered as they were first introduced.

Even with the crafted shots, creepy environment and ambitious-sounding vision from Khumwan, I have a funny feeling that the victim is none of the students, but the unfortunate viewer on this side of the screen.

Rating:  1.5*

A horror venture that forgot its roots and tried to inject human drama that fizzled out flat.

First published: www.moviexclusive.com

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