My Ex (Cert 18)
1 Disc (Distributor: MVM Entertainment) Running time: 86 minutes approx.
Film star Ken (Shahkrit Yamnarm) is a favourite of the tabloids due to his revolving door of girlfriends. When current squeeze Meen (Navadee Mokkhayesa) announces she is pregnant, Ken can’t dump her fast enough, jumping straight into the sack with Bow (Atthama Chiwanitchaphan), with whom he has been cheating on Meen. Showing his commitment to Bow, Ken charms latest co-star Ploy (Wanida Termthanaporn) into his love shack. The growing media attention of this relationship, coupled with the sinister hate campaign against him which he believes Meen is behind, forces Ken to escape to his coastal holiday home for some peace and quiet – something he is denied by unwanted supernatural presences to teach Ken a valuable lesson about not making promises you have no intention of keeping.
Clearly Thailand didn’t get the e-mail about Asian horror films moving on from long, black haired vengeful female spirits, already a well worn concept when My Ex was domestically released in 2009. Then again not everyone in Asia took much notice of it either. Watching this, one gets the idea that director Piyapan Choopetch saw J-Horror classics like Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge, as well as the success of his homeland’s 2004 hit Shutter and thought “I could do that”, with this being the end result. Not that it is a bad film just an overly familiar one that will have the viewer pen in hand, eager to tick the boxes on the J-Horror check list.
The story is straight forward and unadventurous but does has an ace up its sleeve in that we have to wait until the end to find out which of the spurned ladies is the one making Ken’s life a living nightmare. Bow is offed early on in brutally spectacular fashion although this news doesn’t seem to have reached Ken for some reason (a bit of plot hole there) while Meen’s raging malevolence for being dumped has been duly noted ad nauseam by Ken and manager Nimit (Bordin Duke). When his car is vandalised and daubed with crude messages Ken suspects Meen or a paparazzi photographer he recently punched for snapping pics of him and Ploy. While developing his sneaky photos of the loved up couple, Mr. Snapper notices a spectral looking third party hovering in the background, much like the presence Ken and Ploy seem to feel whenever they are alone.
During the first half, the catalogue of clichéd horror scares is raided: the stalking POV camera, the musical swirls full of anticipation and dread, the imagery sounds, dreams within dreams (an overused gimmick in this instance), ghostly figures lurking in reflected surfaces – all present and correct. But in the second half, Choopetch’s imagination seems to have awakened and some few fresh ideas are brought to the table providing some genuine creepiness and effective deceits en route to Ken discovering the truth behind his torment. Where the film does succeed in unsettling the viewer is with the gore factor, most notably during the big reveal which features one scene I am confident very few viewers will be able to keep their eyes on the screen for its duration – it is THAT disturbing and emotionally tragic at the same.
It is hard to divine whether Choopetch was trying to be fresh within a stale remit or if he conceded defeat beforehand and decided to do his best within the conventions of the genre. As a result the story feels a bit haphazard and unfocused in places, with repetition and contrivances galore in the early going, before picking itself back up for a dramatic and horrific finale courtesy of some helpful revealing flashbacks. Even at a tidy 86 minutes in length we get the obligatory post coda, but not before signing off with one last swerve. Had Choopetch and his writers been a bit more adventurous and tried harder to be more original, there is a chance the story may have held up a little better than it does, but again the aspiration of creating high art, even within a fairly contained genre, was clearly not present in the first place.
The cast, it has to be said, were obviously chosen for their looks, and both male and female viewers will enjoy the eye candy on display courtesy of Shahkrit Yamnarm for the ladies, and his three sexy co-stars for us fellas. The acting is functional at best for what is required of them but Wanida Termthanaporn as Ploy, as gorgeous as she is, can’t emote fear or horror if her life depended on it, and considering that was pretty much what her role called for, well, at least she’s cute.
My Ex is only really guilty of lacking in originality and the ambition of breaking new ground in the horror genre, but what it does deliver is competent enough and contains some truly unnerving scenes for the gore fans. For a quick Asian Horror fix this tale of Fatal Attraction Meets The Grudge holds sufficient interest satiate that hunger.
Rating – ***
Man In Black