[review by JA Kerswell]
|The killer in SLICE hunts Bankok with a large red suitcase.|
Kome Kongkiat Komesiri’s remarkable Thai thriller SLICE is front-loaded with slasher action. However, the film is difficult to categorise and it confounds expectations. A serial killer in a red rain slicker is targeting Bangkok’s sex offenders and society's elite - leaving their body parts around the city. It is in equal parts thrilling, repulsive and strangely touching, SLICE is a unique film that - although a difficult watch at times - is well worth seeing. Plus it has a killer twist that I didn’t see coming.
Tai (Arak Amornsupasiri) is serving a ten-year sentence in prison for crimes associated with being a hitman. In jail, he does the bidding of crime bosses but yearns to be free of violence and be reunited with his girlfriend Noi (Jessica Pasaphan). He tells the prison psychologist of the memories of his childhood friend Nat (Atthaphan Phunsawat), who had been prone to violence after relentless bullying and abuse.
Meanwhile, a detective (Sonthaya Chitmanee) and his team are hunting the serial killer who is terrorising Bangkok. They have no clues, but when the son of a politician is added to the death toll there is extra pressure to find the murderer. The prison psychiatrist mentions to the police the similarities between Tai’s recollections of his childhood friend and current killings - especially the large red suitcase the killer takes to each murder. Tai is released early from prison on the condition that he has 15 days to find Nat and stop the killings. He must journey back to his childhood home and unravel the mystery to not just stop any further bloodshed but also ensure his freedom and get back to his sweetheart.
|Tai (Arak Amornsupasiri) must delve back into his childhood to find the killer.|
Despite its generic English title, SLICE is something of a Russian Doll of a movie. It is constantly shedding layers and revealing new surprises - some of them shocking and some surprisingly touching. It certainly won’t be for everyone. The violence in the first thirty minutes is brutal and the aftermath of bruised and swollen bodies is shown in unflinching detail. More disturbing still are the depictions (mostly implied) of child sexual and physical abuse - and the bullying and casual homophobia that seemingly created the movie’s monster. The film is bookended by bloody violence - with a hooded killer - that definitely falls within the parameters of the slasher movie. However, it confounds with a central section that flashes back to the childhood friendship of Tai and Nat - that is at times touching and at others unrelentingly brutal. However, it is all-important to justify the film’s ending.
Where it perhaps falls down is the inconsistency with the killer’s motivation. Whilst the murders of paedophiles and past bullies are understandable within the narrative of the movie, the killer also targets other victims that seemingly have no connection to either. In one otherwise jaw-dropping scene of almost balletic violence, the killer in the red rain slicker shoots dead over a dozen people at a baroque sex party - with even the sex workers falling under the hail of bullets. It seems that this scene was added because it looked cool, but somewhat undermines the rest of the movie.
|Kome Kongkiat Komesiri's SLICE goes places that few Western thrillers would dare to tread.|
Bangkok is shown as anything but glamorous for the most part. The city is depicted as being almost identically as scuzzy as how 42nd Street appeared in early 80s North American horror movies such as NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (1981). The Thai countryside, however, is shown as a bucolic, lush and peaceful counterpart. The irony is that both locations offer no protection and are places where violence swells just below the surface. Arak Amornsupasiri, as Tai, gives a great performance as a man whose hard image melts throughout the movie and ends with his emotions laid bare.
SLICE (the title’s direct translation from Thai is actually SLASH) was released to cinemas in Thailand October 2009 to generally excellent reviews, but largely failed to find an audience. The killer's disguise is curiously reminiscent of that in Umberto Lenzi's far cheesier giallo EYEBALL (1975).
This is certainly no popcorn slasher. In fact, it owes more to fantastical yet gritty thrillers such as David Fincher’s SE7EN (1995). Yet, it is a wild and unpredictable ride for those with the taste for something different.
female: 7 / male:16
1) Male stabbed to death
2) Male has throat slit
3) Male slashed to death knife
4) Male found dead
5) Male shot
6) Male shot
7) Male shot<
8) Female shot
9) Male shot
11) Male shot
12) Male shot
13) Female shot
14) Female shot
15) Female shot
16) Female shot
17) Female shot
18) Male shot
19) Male sound slashed and mutilated
20) Male has throat slit
21) Male has throat slit
22) Male has throat slit
23) Male shot in the chest and slashed
24) Female shot dead
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