Monday, July 4, 2016

Awasarn Lok Suay a/k/a Grace (2016)

Awasarn Lok Suay a/k/a Grace (2016)

The New York Asian Film Festival is celebrating its 15th year in existence, and showing 50+ Asian films over the course of almost 3 weeks.  I have been going since the first festival, which was held at Anthology Film Archives when it showed just 11 films.  At that first one I saw Visitor Q, Takashi Miike's digital video foray into incest and breast milk.  It was literally what made me decide to go to that festival, and what started a now 14 year obsession with that director and Asian cinema in general.  I have since seen about 30 Miike films in theaters, and literally hundreds of Asian films.  The most I have seen one festival was about 26, and the least may have been the first festival with only maybe 2-4.  This year, due to time, money, and other reasons, I will not get to see many unfortunately, and this so far is my second.  If I am lucky I will make it to about 7, which may sound high to most, but for me that is severely low.  The first one I saw this year is The Priests, which I have yet to review, but last night's film was a Thai slasher called Awasarn Lok Suay a/k/a Grace.

The festival is mostly held at Lincoln Center now, and last night was no exception.  Before the movie the lead actress showed up and took many publicity photos, and posed with fans and other industry people.  She is the one of the left, with the producer of the movie (and her translator for the night) on the right.

The movie revolves around a few high school students who become internet celebrities.  The Facebook obsession takes front and center here as a driving force for jealousy, backstabbing, cosplay, hook ups, kidnapping and torture.  Although this comes off as a slasher film, there is some social commentary and a build up to the violent, and gory scenes. 

I do have a few complaints though.  I feel like this film tried a bit too hard to be mysterious in its presentation, as there are multiple flashback scenes that explain the main character's motivations, which overall help the film in theory, but the confusing nature of how the flashbacks are presented did not sit well with me.  On top of that, it got a bit confusing as to who was who at certain points, especially when there are multiple girls running around in schoolgirl outfits.  Could just be a white guy thing though!

The film is well acted, and was not really as bad nor as boring as I expected it to be.  I am generally not a fan of more recent horror movies, though sometimes the Asian ones can be exceptionally creepy.  This one went more towards the slasher vein (pun intended), and I really feel if they had made the plot a bit less confusing and more straightforward with less flashbacks it would have been more entertaining and easier to understand.  This does end up in very much of a torture porn/gore area, with a lot of fetishistic views of young Asian girls tied up, bleeding, in pain.  There is also a cautionary tale of the world's obsession with youth, beauty, social media, and serial killers. 

The movie does have an especially good little hashtag, which is also a line in the movie :


Overall I felt somewhat disappointed by the end of the film, the more interesting bits ended up near the end, where the final info that pulls the film together is revealed, but the set up is too long and the action only really gets going near the end.  I am generally not a fan of remakes, but I do think there is the basis for a really good horror movie here, so maybe someone can do a remake that takes full advantage of the story. 

6 out of 10 stars.

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