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Friday, December 30, 2022

‘Countdown’ – 2012 Thai Thriller Is a Darkly Fun Way to Ring in the New Year

While New Year’s is just the first day of January for most people, others consider it to be something more momentous. It represents a fresh start, especially for those who desperately need a change in their lives. The three core characters in Nattawut Poonpiriya’s 2012 movie Countdown don’t know it yet, but their New Year’s Eve is going to be a time of reflection and, most importantly, survival.

The college-age characters in Countdown have a problem that only people their age would consider a real crisis; their weed dealer has retired as part of his own clean slate. But if they want to have a fun New Year’s Eve, then roommates Bee, Jack and Pam (Jarinporn Joonkiat, Pachara Chirathivat, Pattarasaya Kreursuwansiri) need to find another source, stat. This brings them to calling Jesús (David Asavanond) from the torn-up business card that Jack found in his ex-dealer’s place. They have to guess the last digit in his phone number, yet to their own surprise, Jesús picks up after the first try.

Countdown kicks off like other movies about misfits scraping by in life and learning how to be adults the hard way. Bee is thrilled to learn she and Jack aren’t having a baby as she first suspected, Jack is still pocketing the tuition money his father sends him from back home in Thailand, and Pam’s desperation to be loved leads to petty theft. It’s understandable if the younger characters are hard to stomach; they’re blatantly obnoxious and entitled. Of course it’s their immaturity that fuels the main conflict; Jesús, the traveling drug dealer who bears a slight resemblance to his biblical namesake, doesn’t appreciate being the butt of others’ jokes.

Countdown

The movie fully enters thriller mode after teasing it earlier. There was always something “off” about Jesús, but when he pulls Jack’s pants down and spanks his ass with a spatula, all bets are off. Countdown becomes more and more unpredictable as the drug dealer reveals a hidden agenda and holds his clients hostage in their apartment. This branch of the “home invasion” subgenre requires a believable setup to warrant the turned tables, and a drug deal gone bad isn’t the worst way to get the ball rolling. Of course Jesús’ motives for attacking Bee and the others has less to do with a faulty transaction and more to do with their innermost secrets.

There’s more to the story than the basic premise suggests, and viewers can appreciate this serpentine quality. As terrifying as it is to be held hostage in a bathtub, with a nail gun in your face, Jesús’ vested interest in these three party kids is more daunting. There’s a certain Shyamalanism to Countdown’s antagonist, who isn’t the dolt he originally made himself out to be. Asavanond’s cunning performance, delivering jacked-up and holier-than-thou craziness scene after scene, isn’t one to miss. His co-stars assume the position of victims, though their previous sleepiness is nowhere to be found now that they’re being tortured, one by one.

Countdown, for the most part, occurs solely in the protagonists’ barebones apartment. Had someone not run out to find help in the deserted building, the movie could be likened to a stage play. Limiting the characters to their own home robs the script of any particularly memorable set pieces, though. Bee and her roommates are either menaced in the off-white bathroom, or they’re roughed up in their yellowy living room. The domestic location is more minimal and drab looking than one might like, yet this adds to the overall unpleasantness.

Countdown

There is no visual transition between the movie’s tones to speak of, but the narrative swerve into perverse torture is organic. Jesús is a walking red flag, so satisfying audience expectations was the only way to go. Where Poonpiriya bends genre rules is inviting an element not routinely used in other home-invasion stories. It adds an unexpected sense of surrealism that glues dangling plot bits together. At the same time, it invites more unanswered questions about the strange world these characters live in. What spurred this unforeseen revelation, and why did it happen tonight? You can only infer an answer, based on the ending.

Countdown doesn’t do what other drug movies do, and that is playing the story out like a bad bender. In spite of several peculiarly uncanny moments between captives and captor, the story is sobering and rooted in harsh realism. It’s not a fanciful New Year’s Eve for these unfortunate characters who only wanted to enter 2013 as high as a kite. Although, the questionable and somewhat underserved conclusion is removed from reality. There isn’t anything individually likable about Countdown; everyone sits somewhere on a spectrum of loathsomeness.  As soon as Jesús begins bestowing his patent brand of cruelty on these misguided brats, though, this thriller picks up and becomes a darkly fun way to ring in the New Year.


Horrors Elsewhere is a recurring column that spotlights a variety of movies from all around the globe, particularly those not from the United States. Fears may not be universal, but one thing is for sure — a scream is understood, always and everywhere.

Countdown

The post ‘Countdown’ – 2012 Thai Thriller Is a Darkly Fun Way to Ring in the New Year appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3744903/countdown-2012-thai-thriller-is-a-darkly-fun-way-to-ring-in-the-new-year/

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