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The Unseeable (2006)

Pen choo kab pee (original title)
When a pregnant country girl leaves home to search for her missing husband, she finds refuge at a mysterious estate whose inhabitants hold more secrets than she may wish to know.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Suporntip Chuangrangsri ...
Madame Ranjuan
Tassawan Seneewongse ...
Ms. Somjit
Siraphan Wattanajinda ...
Nualjan
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Storyline

Nualjan's life took a happy turn when violin player Chob arrived in her village Cholburi. It was love at first sight and she got pregnant. Then Chob told her he will leave for business to Bangkok for a few days. He will be back soon he promised, but Chob never came back. Now, months later, Nualjan can't wait any longer and decides to search for him. On her way to Bangkok, she arrives at a mysterious pension. Supervisor miss Somjit refuses to let the very pregnant Nualjan stay at first however. She finally relents, but demands that she stays away from the main house, where the owner madame Ranjuan resides. Nualjan soon finds out there's something going on on the premises. Why does she see moving shadows? Who is the man cutting wood in the middle of the night, who is the old woman living in a garden shed? Only Choy, another guest, seems interested in her and is willing to tell about the disturbing peculiarities of the estate. But not everything. Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

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2 November 2006 (Thailand)  »

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A Nutshell Review: The Unseeable
1 February 2007 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

It's no secret that I'm a fan of writer-director Wisit Sasanatieng's movies - Tears of the Black Tiger, and Citizen Dog. What's excellent and probably the hallmarks of the director currently are the stunning visuals, wonderful colors, and story lines which are highly imaginative. With Tears, it was an amalgam of cultures for a distinctive and eclectic mix of what's Thai, and the Wild Wild West. In Citizen Dog, the fusion of fantastical elements, song, and comedy endears it and at the same time, warms your heart.

But when this project was announced, I admit I was a bit apprehensive. I have not fancied many Asian horror movies of late, because of the usual formulaic stories and the employment of cheap shock tactics which bore. At times, scenes become unintentionally comedic, coupled with bad makeup and cheesy special effects, which mar whatever potential the movies could have achieved. The horror genre is no doubt a money spinner, and many times, quality is compromised when everyone jumps on the same bandwagon, knowing audiences will still lap them up despite the inferior product.

The Unseeable, however, managed to evade the negative connotations as put forth. I guess my trust in Sasanatieng's vision remained unwavering. The story, when finally pieced together, remained coherent, even though at some points, it felt that the pacing could be picked up a little. Never rushed, it took a very measured method to introduce characters, their backgrounds, and the explanation of, well, what goes bump in the night.

The story tells of a pregnant village girl, Nualjan, who left her hometown in search of her lost husband. En route to Bangkok, she gets put up at a boarding house, with few inhabitants, and owned by a mysterious rich widow Ranjuan who lives in a separate house in the same compound. Making few friends, and slowly becoming the disdain of the housekeeper, Nualjan encounters inexplainable incidents and strange folks, helped in no way by stories about the spookiness of the premises. The usual motley crew of horror movie characters - an old scrawny lady, a young child, and plenty of shadowy figures.

The narrative structure did seem to stick to the usual formula though, with the final twist ending (twist endings themselves are becoming so common, it's difficult for filmmakers to imagine something more breakthrough). At times, you will also feel that despite the red herrings, your gut feel about how things will turn out, will probably correct. While the revelation explained and tied up loose ends, it did however demonstrate that it doesn't seem to want to end.

Gone are the usual bright pastel color palette that we associate Sasanatieng's movies with, and in place for The Unseeable, are strained colors with a general greenish tinge, in line with the mood and atmosphere created for horror. I felt the filmmakers achieved their objective of creating a horror movie which doesn't capitalize on CGI and special effects, that if not done right, relegates it automatically together with those of dubious quality. Relying on tight angles and excellent sound editing, I admit that yes, watching The Unseeable did give me the chills, especially during its revelatory scenes.

I believed the movie's title in Thai was a little spoiler in itself, so please don't try to translate it until after you've seen the movie. My faith in Wisit Sasanatieng continues, and I for one am eagerly anticipating his take on the martial arts genre with Armful, currently in production.


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