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The Lake teaser trailer signals the return of practical effects for giant movie monster creation

The Lake

There’s no denying that CGI has revolutionized the giant monster movie, and it has some prime examples of the kind of horror it’s capable of producing on the big screen. Cloverfield comes to mind as not only one of the best big monster movies in recent times but also one of the scariest. The monster’s design, the set pieces, and the mystery behind the creature’s presence all converge to produce a very unsettling experience unlike anything seen before in the genre.

And yet, for my money, nothing beats Jurassic Park’s T-Rex animatronic as the most impressive giant movie monster in film history. There’s just something special about knowing the creature that’s trying to eat the movie’s characters is actually there, especially during the first encounter when it slaughters the goat and breaks out of its paddock. That the actors aren’t just reacting to a guy in a green suit holding a dinosaur prop head as a marker for the subsequent CGI work gives the sequence a uniquely horrifying feel that heightens the tension in unprecedented ways (even though CGI was used in some scenes to for the T-Rex).

The new big budget Thai/Chinese production The Lake is aiming for the same thing that made Jurassic Park so impactful, bringing the practical effects monster back into the fold with a giant creature designed by Jordu Schell, the artist behind the Cloverfield Monster, Starship Troopers, The Thing, Men in Black, Planet of the Apes, and Predators.

The film looks to tap more into horror than fantasy for its giant monster story. The teaser trailer keeps things pretty light on details, preferring to offer a generous set of hints as to the threat the human characters will be facing instead of the reasons why there’s a monster attacking people in the first place. It’s highly effective at hyping up the threat, though. The glimpses we get of the monster suggest its design will feature classic giant creature elements along with key tweaks the trailer doesn’t entirely give away.

There are also instances in which the possibility of smaller creatures are hinted at, but not definitively. This is, after all, a teaser and its purpose is to foster an air of mystery that surrounds the creature’s origins. The shots of the monster do look impressive and showcase the prowess of practical effects in storytelling. There’s an overwhelming sense of presence to the creature and it helps make it look supremely dangerous and deadly.

Schell’s monster design, what’s shown of it, is downright disturbing. It compares to his design for Cloverfield by favoring horror over sci-fi on a visual level. Regardless of what its origin ends up being, one thing’s already certain: the creature will leave an impression. The production looks ambitious and the settings varied enough to guarantee the action won’t just focus on big cities or densely populated areas. In this regard, The Lake somewhat reminds of Bong Joon-Ho’s 2006 The Host, another monster movie that aimed for being different within the genre. It explored other environments and spaces to great effect, preferring to keep some distance from the all-too-common skyscraper-dominated areas that populate these type of movies. That’s on top of having a unique creature that still invites close observation to fully appreciate.

the lake

The Lake is slated for an August, 2022 release in Thailand. There’s no information yet on when it’ll reach our shores and whether it’ll go for an initial theatrical run or if it’s headed straight for a Video on Demand release. Whatever the case may be, this new giant creature feature deserves attention for bringing practical effects back to the table and hopefully introducing the form to a new generation of movie-goers.

The Hunger Games’ Three Finger Salute Becomes a Symbol of Defiance in Thailand

It’s always interesting to see what pop culture symbolism is adopted when it comes to politics. The Joker mask was recently adopted in protests in Hong Kong last year. The iconic silent three-finger gesture from The Hunger Games is being used during ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Thailand. It’s become a symbol of defiance within the nation. The protestors are demanding reform of the Thai monarchy and an end to corruption. They have entered into the ninth month of protests against the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

This isn’t the first time the gesture has been used in the nation and not the only pop culture references regularly being spotted.

The three fingers first caught on in 2014 after a military coup overthrew the Thai government. There was an attempt to ban the gesture in response which failed. In 2019 a general election was held based on a controversial military-drafted constitution.

The symbol was so popular, the opposition party, Future Forward, adopted it. That party won 80 seats in the parliament in 2019 making it the third-largest party. The party was dissolved earlier this year when one of its leaders was ruled to have illegally donated money to the cause after calling it a loan.

Protestors have also dressed up as references to Harry Potter and Japanese anime like Hamtaro and Naruto.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has taken on comparisons to the Harry Potter villain Voldemort, “He Who Must Not Be Named”, because it is illegal to insult, defame, or threaten the king.

The three fingers has symbolism as the protestors have three demands:

  1. The Dissolution of parliament
  2. End the intimidation of the people
  3. Draft a new constitution

From Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, the salute is a way to say goodbye, as a sign of respect and admiration, and becomes an act of defiance and solidarity against tyranny as the story progresses. It has historical significance and was used during the French Revolution to symbolize the trinity of freedom, fraternity, and equality.

The salute has also been used in the before mentioned pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year. Those protests along with the Thai protests and, Taiwan protests have been led by youth and been dubbed the “Milk Tea Alliance.” Other popular adopted pop-culture symbolism is the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta which has been used during Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring protests as well as being used by hacktivist group Anonymous.