The Murderer Review – a Thai dark comedy in the same vein of Very Bad Things

July 27, 2023 (Last updated: July 30, 2023)
M.N. Miller 0
Movie Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
2023 Netflix film The Murderer Review


The Murderer is a dark comedy in the same vein as Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things that’s clever while simultaneously being visually ominous and evocative.

Here is our review of the 2023 Netflix film The Murderer, which does not contain significant spoilers.

Maybe not since Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things has some, well, very bad things happened in a movie, as they do in Wisit Sasanatieng‘s The Murderer. Led by an amusing performance from Phetthai Vongkumlao (Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior), this dark comedy has a whole bunch of bloodshed in it.

However, the actions in this Netflix Thai film are purposeful in plot reveals and development and never as gratuitous as you’d expect. While much of the film’s humor falls flat, the payoff far exceeds the reservations you may begin to have before you arrive at its thrilling final act.

An Englishman, Earl, and his wife, Sai, are visiting Thailand with their in-laws. They have arrived to visit family and to gain custody of Sai’s niece, June, whom she helped raise. June’s mother, Tukta, and her dim-witted brother, Kai, were abandoned as children, and she’s been staying with Sai’s parents.

A storm is coming—one of the worst the area has seen in quite some time.

The Murderer Review and Plot Summary

Before the storm comes down, bodies start to drop left and right. It’s a gruesome scene as bodies are spread all over the desolate and lush farmland of the Bung Klua district. Among the dead are Sai’s father, Boonluck; her Aunt Parsuree; Sai’s brother, Kai; and his best friend and ex-husband, Phet. Her ex-sister-in-law, Tukta, and her American husband, Charlie, are also deceased.

Finally, a police officer was also found at the scene, murdered with multiple gunshots to the chest. The only survivors are Earl, Sai, and June.

Major Nawat Banluecha (Vongkumlao), known as “The Hot-Headed Crime Buster,” is assigned to the case. He believes the “Farang” (a slang term used to describe a Westerner in Thailand) is the murderer.

Working with a script from Abishek J. Bajaj (The Whole Truth), Sasanatieng’s film begins very slowly. For one, the first act wastes too much time establishing characters and exposition to understand the family dynamics. Much of that is used to generate humor from the Charlie character, depicting his buffoonery.

Another is an extended scene of a dead body passing gas that is endlessly out of place.

The film would have greatly benefited by jumping right into the eye of the storm, pun intended, and dropping the viewer into the family dynamic and cultural attitude towards Westerners.

This would have built up greater suspense and added to the parallel narrative of Vongkumlao’s renowned investigator storyline, giving it greater meaning and payoff.

Is The Murderer good or bad?

The Murderer is a good dark comedy that overcomes considerable flaws and is a startlingly effective experience. Sasanatieng’s movie begins to pick up considerable steam in the middle of its second act. The number of deaths is overwhelming, but the reveals are clever, some thrilling, and others darkly amusing.

Not to mention, many of the twists, like a Matryoshka doll, begin to supplant what the audience previously accepted.

Is The Murderer worth watching?

The Murderer is worth watching based on the clever second half of the script and a charismatic turn by Phetthai Vongkumlao, who provides the film’s only comic relief. Visually ominous and evocative at the same time, Sasanatieng’s film is a flawed but entertaining streaming experience.

What did you think of the 2023 Netflix film The Murderer? Comment below.

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