Trek, The
Thailand 2002
Directed by Chanchai Pantasi.

Apparently the jungle is a lot more dangerous than last time you visited. And it's not the animals, particularly. It's the insects. Basically, they have a tendancy to rip your face off or swarm over your lower half and devour it down to the bones within seconds. Also, spiders get real big these days and tend to attach themselves to your face using their fangs and retractable claws in each leg. Needless to say, THE TREK was quite likely not endorsed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

An elephant conservation group gets a hot tip that a wooly mammoth still lives somewhere deep in the forest. While this would be a pretty odd adaptation for a tropical climate, no one seems to think so. Instead, they decide to dash to the spot and record the existence of the creature. Mr. Tamask, the leader of the group, decides at the last minute to also recruit a group of foreigners standing nearby because, as he explains, "Thai people trust foreigners."

So they dash off into the jungle, with few supplies, and wearing shorts and half-shirts. One of the girls even brings her fluffy white poodle. They're all set for a leisurely adventure, but the first day out, one guy gets killed by centipedes that crawl into his body and burrow back out, and their leader Mr. Tamask gets so badly injured he decides to shoot himself in the head, though not before extracting a promise from Tong (Danai Smuthkochorn) to find that wooly mammoth. Now, for me, that would mean leave, prepare better, and return some day. After all, it usually seems best to call an end to a trip when a few members of your party die horribly. But Tong wants to keep going, and everyone else is too stupid to disagree. Which is good, because it would be hard to watch them all get killed one by one if you felt sypathetic to any of them. Instead, it's open season on dumb conservationists and tourists, and we've got a front row seat.

Unfortunately, about hafway through the film, the insects stop killing people and a giant, superfast snake takes over. The CGI effects of the snake are OK, but for the most part this section of the film is heavily derivative of ANACONDA (1997, USA).

Why the pumped up killer creatures? Simple -- drug smugglers are constantly going through the area, shooting and killing each other, having run-ins with police. The snakes in the area have developed a taste for the white powder and lap it up, which apparently makes them grow big, move fast, roar like a tiger, and eat people. My solution is to start throwing pot in the river to mellow these suckers out. What isn't made clear is whether the insects are also hyped-up or if that's just the way they always are.

And what about the wooly mammoth? Well, it gives away nothing to say they do eventually find it. But then, they decide not to take any pictures, because if they did more people would come to look, and destroy its "natural habitat." Excuse me, but after tracking through that jungle there wouldn't be a single person in that party who wouldn't imagine that idea with relish. I would have been envisioning where the parking lot and visitor's center would go right there, while snapping as many pictures as I could.

None of the actors, including Danai Smuthkochorn, Eilidh MacQueen, Paul Visut Carey, Manaswee Krittanchakl, and Supaksorn Chaimongkol, are actually much good, though they all do scream pretty well. THE TREK is a mindless gorefest, and approached on that level, will probably satify fans of the genre.

[NOTE: Printed on the DVD itself, and in some shop listings of the film, are the names William Katt, Wayne Crawford, and Kate Conner. None of these people are in the movie, though they were in a cheap US horror flick reputed to be even worse, entitled SNAKE ISLAND.]

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 04, 2006.

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