Puen Tee Raluek [The Promise] (2017)

Puen Tee Raluek
Director: Sophon Sakdaphisit
Writer: Sopana Chaowwiwatkul, Supalerk Ningsanond, Sophon Sakdaphisit
Cast: Bee Namthip, Apichaya Thongkham, Panisara Rikulsurakan, Deuntem Salitul, Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen, Benjamin Joseph Varney, Teerapop Songwaja
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2018

In 1997, Ib (Panisara Rikulsurakan) and Boum (Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen) are best friends. The two girls both come from rich real estate families, but when the financial crisis hits, their lives are forever changed. 20 years later, Boum (Bee Namthip) has risen from the ashes of the crisis and is working hard to restore her family’s company to its former glory, despite another financial crisis looming on the horizon. She agrees to a plan to finish building the high-rise started in 1997 but never finished. But as the project starts to get off the ground, Boum’s daughter Bell (Apichaya Thongkham), now the same age as Boum and Ib were back then, starts exhibiting worrisome behavior.

The Promise starts off strong, setting up its characters and the story nicely and creating good tension. But unfortunately, it completely spiralled out of control in the second half, making me wish that it had done a little less.

The film poster showing two women looking at the camera in front of a black background with a ghostly face behind them.

The Promise is off to a good start. I liked the characters – both the ones from the past and the ones from the present – and really felt with them (on that note: poor Mon!). I also appreciated that Ib and Boum were very clearly in love, although their queerness is never made explicit. Tension also builds up nicely, with a few good jumpscares, the perfect backdrop with that half-built high-rise and the sense of doom that permeates everything.

As much as I enjoyed that building as (most of) the setting of the film, I was also very much intrigued when the story moved away a little from it and the supernatural basically follows Boum and Bell home. The spill of it into their apartment was very well done.

Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen and Panisara Rikulsurakan in the film.

But it was around that point that the film started to feel way too long and then it just seems to keep piling things on and on and on until its plate is too full, making me wish that it had tried a little less. Towards the end I did fall asleep for a bit and I still saw too many endings to the film, as if it just wasn’t prepared for it to be over – while I was very much prepared for that.

It’s a pity that the second half was too much, because the first half was really good. But ultimately, the second half overshadowed the first half for me, leaving me with a very middling impression.

Apichaya Thongkham in the film.

Summarizing: Okay.

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