Laddaland (2011)

Regular  readers of Horror Movie Theater know that I am a huge fan of foreign horror. I have watched French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, and of course Japanese. However, don’t count out Thailand. From a horror perspective, Thailand doesn’t release horror movies every year like the States, but to their credit, the producers and directors, script writers and actors generally come together to make a great project. I can not call Laddaland a perfectly done movie, but it is worth watching. And yes, I do suggest watching it in its original language. Let’s talk about this and I will keep will try to keep spoilers to a minimum.

Laddaland starts off as most horror movies do, innocent, sun-filled, you can see the hope and ambitions flowing. A man in a house alone, unpacking, painting, obviously making the house suitable for a family. He has big plans, you can almost see the dreams spilling out of his head as he smiles. At the airport, he picks up his excited wife and son….and not so excited teen daughter. Trouble in paradise already? Of course, what’s a movie without just a little bit of teen angst? Thee, the father, just wants everything to flow smoothly and his wife, Parn, and son, Nat, are ready to jump on board. The daughter, Nan, just wants to go back to Bangkok where her friends and grandmother are. Ah, the grandmother, the unseen nag of the film, loves her grandchildren, seems to tolerate her own daughter, hates her son-in-law. Even though Thee seems to be doing well at work and was able to afford a down payment for a house in Laddaland, a lovely gated community, it is not enough to impress.

it becomes clear that all is not golden in Laddaland. A murder takes place after Thee’s family moves in and the police are looking for the killer. When Thee finds out that a Burmese maid has been killed, he is confused. He just saw the maid watering the plants the day before. After that, the descent begins and the neighborhood suffers as people start moving away. Thee loses his job, Parn attempts to help her next door neighbor with her abusive husband to horrible results, and Nan, after encountering the ghost herself and telling her father to no avail, moves out to stay with a friend.

There are several questions that arise in Laddaland, but fortunately the movie answers most by the end. The focus isn’t the maid, although one does wonder who killed the girl, but rather the paranormal events in general. The ghost isn’t after anybody, even though the hapless gate guard does have the misfortune of meeting her, and yes, she is scary to behold. The family next door to Thee goes through real horror after he confronts the father, Somkiat, after Nat and his new friend, Golf, get into trouble. It is clear to the viewer that Somkiat is unstable, but no one knows just how unstable. Thee wakes up during the night after hearing a bell ringing and looks out to see Somkiat’s mother walking the streets, searching for her cat. Only later does Thee hear that Somkiat killed his entire family and himself earlier that night. Is the community of Laddaland driving people crazy? You could ask that and be pretty convinced that it is. Why the Burmese maid? Why her, you ask? Why anybody?

Laddaland ends sadly and you almost want to grab the tissues. Yes, it is a horror movie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t touch your heart. True, most will touch your heart and rip it out still beating, but some horror will make you tear up. (The Haunting in Connecticut, anyone?) I liked Laddaland and for what it was worth, it was an interesting story. A word of warning: Know your neighborhood before moving in.

Scream rating: 3 screams (I’m giving one to the ghost maid’s face all on its own)

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