Soul's Code -- Film Review

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Bottom Line: Baffling and often ridiculous horror-thriller stretches credibility, even for the form.

HONG KONG -- If you took the Thai horror hit "Shutter" and mated it with "CSI," the product might be something like "Soul's Code." And what an ugly child it would be. Even taking into consideration the suspension of disbelief demanded of the genre (more so in the West), director Adsajun Sattagovit's "Code" can't make a case for itself as either a procedural thriller or as a horror pic, lacking as it is in both thrills and frights.

Genre festivals may take a look and the subject matter might give it some traction in ghost-friendly Asia, but beyond that, this film is likely to be banished to obscurity.

After blowing a major high-profile bust when he thinks he sees a hostage, police inspector Garnont (the unblinking M.L. Nattakorn Devakula) is demoted to standard homicides. His first case with new partner Nicha (Premsinee Ratanasopar) is one involving the death of budding pop star Cee's (Patiwat Ruangsri) ex-girlfriend Ning (Napat Banchongchitpaisal).

Cee's continued devotion to her is the source of constant irritation to his current supermodel squeeze Prae (Suttikan Wangjaroentaweekul), which should be a warning to anyone awake enough to follow the story. Eventually, the prime suspects boil down to Cee and high-profile gangster X Fargo (Watcharakiat Boonpakoee), and soon Ning's spirit shows up to lend a hand in solving her murder.

"Code's" biggest crimes are being obvious (horror aficionados will guess who the killer is pretty early on despite the red herrings) and ludicrous. How ludicrous? The forensics team identifies the victim because a tattoo on her bound ankles transferred to a piece of cloth that was soaked when she was dumped in the water (it can be assumed it's a stick-on tat).

Need more? Garnont brilliantly states -- some 60 minutes into the film -- that the victim "either traveled to Chiang Mai and was killed there or was killed elsewhere and dumped in Chiang Mai." You don't say? Throw in some poor sound quality, stilted performances and forced visual flourishes, and you've got the makings of a stinker.

Production companies: Alangkarn Studio
Cast: M.L. Nattakorn Devakula, Patiwat Ruangsri, Premsinee Ratanasopar, Suttikan Wangjaroentaweekul, Napat Banchongchitpaisal, Arucha Chatkaew
Director: Adsajun Sattagovit
Screenwriter: Karn Hongthong, Jaturong Prasongsuk
Executive producer: Presom Raungsri
Producer: Benchaporn Punyaing, Wuttipong Sirwahwiwat
Director of photography: Kresisom Burntassing
Production designer: Kwanchai Keawmark
Music: Seering Karridortree
Costume designer: Sarrapudsri Rassarstrom
Editor: Pinyo Mhoalasri
Sales: Five Star Production Co
No rating, 103 minutes
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