Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Blue Hour: a Thai Psycho-Sexual-Supernatural Drama
film that commingles sexuality and the supernatural cries out for Neo-Freudian
analysis. This is often generally true of Thai cinema and particularly so in
the case of Anucha Boonyawatana’s first film to break the hour mark. A bullied
gay teen will find the lover he yearned for, but he will also encounter paranormal
dread during their assignations in Boonyawatana’s The Blue Hour (trailer here), which is now
available on DVD and VOD from Strand Releasing.
is regularly beaten at school and his insensitive mother asks him to fake
straight to make things less awkward around the house. Hope arrives in the form
of Phum, an internet hook-up that quickly turns serious. Phum is slightly
older, considerably stronger, and much more experienced than Tam. Nonetheless,
they seem to fit together. However, Phum’s preferred rendezvous spot is not
exactly romantic. Considering the brackish water and evil looking mold spores,
the abandoned public swimming pool might be a legitimate health hazard, but at
least the furtive lovers will not be disturbed there—at least not by anything
to rumor, the pool is haunted by ghosts. Supposedly, the spirits dump missing
bodies there once they have finished their sinister business with the victims.
The more time Tam and Phum spend there, the more credence they give to such
urban legends. However, Phum’s other choice for quality alone time is probably
even more dangerous. That would be the mob-run landfill that also has its share
of corpse dumping.
course, how much of Blue Hour is real
and how much has been distorted by Tam’s warped perception of reality is the key
question Boonyawatana leaves open throughout the film. Regardless, the mounting
sense of menace is definitely based on something. While not consistently scary
enough to be considered a horror film proper, it is still pretty darn creepy at
times. That shunned swimming pool is a particularly evocative location. It just
radiates bad vibes.
youthful and frequently shirtless Atthaphan Poonsawas and Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang
are also terrific as the repressed Tam and cocky Phum. They develop some realistically
complicated romantic chemistry together and act convincingly freaked out when appropriate.
There are other supporting characters washing in and out, but the film is
essentially a two-hander. Happily, they hold up to the scrutiny quite well.
Blue Hour certainly addresses
sexuality rather openly, but the latter half is so dominated by its nocturnal
mysteries, it really should not be pigeon-holed solely as a LGBT programmer.
Arguably, there are enough uncanny goings-on to keep genre fans focused. The
mildness of its mostly implied sexual content also makes it far more accessible
to a broad potential audience.
Boonyawatana leaves some things frustratingly
ambiguous, but his control of the moody atmosphere is quite masterful.
Cinematographers Chaiyapreuk Chalerpornpanit and Kamolpan Ngiwtong also duly
capture the eerie twilight glow promised by the title. Recommended for
discerning viewers of supernatural drama, The
Blue Hour releases today (3/8) on regular DVD and digital platforms,
Labels: DVD, Thai Film