My Ex Review
Piyapan Choopetch's tale of caution to the cads and philanders and playboys of the world begins its journey in a manner which, stylistically speaking, will return to tarnish its delivery at regular intervals for the entirety of the running time. The manner in question is that of a television movie - albeit a competently enough constructed one - and such a delivery breeds an indifference in the viewer which results in a film which is largely forgettable, despite the fact that it is not an altogether unenjoyable experience.
On paper, these shenanigans surrounding a spiteful slighted spirit could present a rather satisfying tale of righteous vengeance. The story centres on the wealthy celebrity Ken, a flippant and shallow young man who moves from one girlfriend to another at a speed which eventually proves extremely hazardous to his health. When he discovers that his existing girlfriend is expecting a child, he expedites his transfer to a newer model, and as the carefree player juggles his relationships with scant moral concern, a vengeful spirit gradually closes in. The looming approach of this angry force is illustrated with a solid sense of pace and even hand, and Piyapan Choopetch shows himself to be a steady orchestrator of what is a mainly coherent though rather generic tale. That said, many of the scenes depicting Ken and his various female associates feel rather over-cooked in terms of the sentimental musical score, and with their relationships proving so vacuous and emotionally bereft, it's the spectre of the TV movie that looms heavily over us, rather than the spectre of the vengeful presence in this film.
What does elevate this film above the doldrums of tedious TV movie fodder is the delivery of the special effects. The increasingly visible presence of the ghastly spirit, whilst again somewhat derivative, is implemented effectively, and there are a few moments where its eventual appearance is mildly unsettling. Other scenes - particularly those with shattering glass - are also architected intelligently, and these segments deliver the closest the film comes to providing anything approaching exhilaration. These horror set pieces will certainly please those with a leaning towards the slightly gorier end of the horror scale, although a truly unpleasant effort to replicate the most shocking elements of Miike's Imprint production proves unnecessary, and very crudely executed.
As Ken's story draws towards its close, My Ex once again flattens any opportunities for this film to make a substantial impression by some distinctly cold feet over the story's conclusion, and rather than firmly shutting the door at the most dignified and logical position, the plot instead trips itself up via a series of unnecessary twists and turns, which again undermine its impact. What's more, by the time we reach the meandering conclusion, we're beyond caring for the characters; indeed, we've seldom cared for the characters at all, with male lead Ken proving too selfish and morally barren and - dare I say - dull, and his foolish female companions showing themselves to be little more deserving of our respect with their love of bling and celebrity.
On balance, My Ex is a competent enough yet ultimately routine chiller, which makes no significant mileage into our subconscious. Despite this, fans of horror - and Thai horror in particular - will still discover enough in the way of solid effects and careful set pieces to extract some enjoyment from this largely pedestrian expedition into post-death vengeance.
Finally, I should probably add that one should never miss the opportunity to capitalise on a mildly successful film, and with this in mind Piyapan Choopetch returned in 2010 with My Ex 2:Haunted Lover.
MVM have released a few Thai horror flicks recently, and from what I've seen, this region 2 effort benefits from the best transfer yet, and again, I commend MVM for bringing Thai horror to the UK market. The image quality isn't the very best you'll see, and you should expect a fairly high level of grain and a modicum of aliasing here and there. Yet the consistency and accuracy of the image - presented in the native aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - is considerably better than other Thai films released through MVM, with Monthon Arayangkoon's The House being an example of a presentation where aliasing and lack of accuracy substantially impacts upon the suspension of disbelief which the film is trying to draw you into.
Though the film is naturally a little muted, the reproduction of colour is strong enough, with the vivid reds of the bloodshed highlighting this well. The darker scenes, of which there are a limited number, also fare well, with no real issues surrounding clarity in the darkness.
MVM's transfer of this Thai horror film doesn't reach the heights of a modern, premium DVD release, but for a budget release of a lesser known horror film, this is still a solid effort which doesn't disappoint.
English subtitles are included here, and whilst they prove decent enough, it does appear that they are burnt in, in so much as you can't toggle them on and off; yep, you're stuck with them, even if you understand Thai.
The Thai audio soundtrack is available in 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround sound, which can be selected via the title menu. Audio reproduction is respectable enough, and if you have a surround sound set-up, you'll be rewarded with some effective use of the rears, particularly in the impressive set-piece featuring the exploding glass. Sound in general is decent, with the musical score - which ranges from over-sentimental to overly-dramatic, often within seconds - arriving through your speakers with clarity and devoid of distortion. Whilst the sound isn't going to match that of a premium DVD release, it's still competent enough to provide a solid accompaniment to the visuals.
Perhaps somewhat predictably, there are no extras on this skinny DVD release.
Thanks to some flat characterisations and a lack of originality, the reasonable special effects and occasional chills are reduced in impact, but horror fans - especially those with a soft spot for Thai horror - will still find enjoyment on MVM's slim release of Piyapan Choopetch's My Ex.