CRACKED movie poster | ©2023 Film Movement

CRACKED movie poster | ©2023 Film Movement

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Chayanit Chansangavej, Nichkhun Horvejkul, Nutthacha Nina Jessica Padovan, Passalak Supasiripaisarn, Byron Bishop, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Nualpanod Nat Khanpukdee, Kunkanit Khumkrong
Writers: Onusa Donsawai, Pun Homchuen, Eakasit Thairaat
Director: Surapong Ploensang
Distributor: Film Movement
Release Date: May 26, 2023 (VOD and DVD)

The title of CRACKED refers literally to the cracks in two valuable paintings, and metaphorically to the psyches of several people affected by them.

Ruja (Chayanit Chansangavej) is a young Thai woman living in a big city with her little daughter Rachel (Nutthacha Nina Jessica Padovan). Rachel’s father, much loved by Ruja, has apparently passed away (exactly what happened to him is not part of the larger story).

Rachel needs eye surgery to prevent her from going blind. Ruja is desperate for money to finance the operation. So, when Wichai (Sahajak Boonthanakit) shows up at Ruja’s doorstep and tells her of a potentially enormous inheritance, she reluctantly listens.

Wichai is an old friend of Ruja’s father, the late famous painter Pakorn (Byron Bishop). Two of Pakorn’s most valuable works have been returned to the estate due to a bizarre tragedy: the purchaser killed his whole family, then committed suicide.

The paintings now belong to Ruja, and can be resold for a fortune. To facilitate this, though, Ruja must return to her parents’ isolated mansion in Thailand. Even before she heads out, Ruja receives an alarming supernatural warning.

Planning to make the trip as short of possible, Ruja takes Rachel with her and arrives at the jungle-surrounded house, with Pakorn’s art studio in a separate building. Ruja misses her mother, who has also passed away, and despises her father, for good reason. The housekeeper Da (Kunkanit Khumkrong), who was with the family since Ruja was a baby, welcomes her back with affection.

The paintings in question are both of a beautiful young woman (Passalak Supasiripaisarn) in provocative poses with a billowing red scarf, against a gold Klimt-like background. But the paintings have little cracks that Wichai says must be repaired before sale.

So, Wichai suggests his art restorer son, Tim (Nichkhun Horvejkul), take on the task. When Tim shows up, Rachel promptly develops a crush on him. Ruja cautiously trusts him. But the house is haunted, the art studio and the paintings even more haunted, and even the jungle isn’t safe.

Directed by Surapong Ploensang, and written by Onusa Donsawai, Pun Homchuen, and Eakasit Thairaat, CRACKED has two of the most essential elements for this type of horror to be effective. First of all, it has strong jump scares, and second, it provides the type of back story the has enough reality-based evil to make us feel like angry ghosts are a logical outcome.

There is an intriguing tension between plot points and inference in CRACKED. Surprisingly, Rachel’s tunnel vision (as shown when we see through her eyes) never impacts what’s happening; she’s not endangered by things we can see that she cannot.

On the other hand, virtually everyone is affected by their own figurative blind spots, things that they don’t want to recognize or remember. This may strike some people more deeply than others, but it’s a valid tactic.

Ruja teeters on the brink of being one of those annoying characters who experiences clearly not-of-this-world incidents and still snaps at others when they describe something uncanny. However, the writers have Ruja realize her mistakes quickly, and Chansangavej brings great sympathy and tenderness to her performance.

The finale toggles between past and present, human rage, grief and guilt, and ghostly vengeance. It’s easy to get a bit confused as we try to reconcile a flood of new information with what we’ve been watching (so, this person is afraid of X, but not of Y?).  

Still, CRACKED functions admirably on multiple levels, with some images that linger after it concludes.

In Thai and English, with English subtitles.

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