Director: Chalit Kraileadmongkon, Chitpol Ruanggun
Cast: Pichaya Nitipaisalkul, Dhanantorn Neerasingh, Gena Natthacha De Souza, Supachai Suwannanon
Runtime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 1 September 2022
Synopsis: Kao wants to be a famous singer in Bangkok. However, he has never reached an inch of his goal. Kao has a buddy named Jane, who is also a singer. Jane is always on his side when he is down. One day, Kao learns that his grandfather has passed away. He decides to return to his hometown, which he has never visited for many years. Kao asks Jane to go along with him. In the meantime, the mayor of Kao's hometown organizes the water field drilling competition to win a grand prize of 1 million Baht. Fon, Kao's ex-lover, is one of the organizing team. When Fon meets Kao at his grandfather's funeral, she asks him to join the competition. At first, Kao rejects her request. Nevertheless, when he thinks of his grandfather's determination to search for water resources for his hometown but is never successful, he decides to join the competition with his teammates, including Jane and Tim. On the day of the competition, all contestants do not become aware that 10 meters beneath the ground, there is a gigantic lizard hiding silently. The sound of roaring engines above the ground wakes the monster up. She begins to hunt contestants one by one. Some are either eaten alive or captured and taken to the monster's nest under the ground. Fon is also one of the captives. Running out of time, he and other competitors join forces to hunt the giant lizard to save Fon and others from being eaten alive.
After decades of churning out countless horror flicks, the Thai movie industry finally came up with their very own version of a monster movie starring a gigantic butterfly lizard who preys and lives underground.
Embroiled in a drug scandal and with the death of his grandpa Wut, popstar Kao (Golf Pichaya Nitipaisankul) decides to go back to his hometown for a visit together with his cousin, Jane (Natthacha De Souza). Coincidentally, his ex-girlfriend, Fon (Dhanantorn Neerasingh), a famous YouTuber and the Mayor is holding a water drilling contest where the winner will walk away with a prize money of one million baht.
Partly to fulfil his late grandpa’s wish of searching for fresh water resources, Kao and Jane teams up with his grandpa’s assistant, Yo (Supachai Suwananon) and join the rest of the water diggers in the competition not knowing a mutated giant lizard is on the loose and she is not just deadly but very hungry.
While the filmmakers are eager to build a monster movie with a touch of Thai culture to compete with Hollywood and other international markets, Leio feels very much out of league and definitely takes its inspiration too seriously to make it a worthwhile trip to the theatres to catch it.
Frankly, the entire story takes a long while to get its gears started, 45 minutes to be exact before we see any action of sorts. We know they are trying to pull a Jaws/Jurassic Park where we don’t see the creature till late into the movie. But hey, Leio is not that kind of movie that has the depth, characters and plot to sit through. And the latter basically spent that amount of time setting up Kao and Fon’s backstories and frequent flashbacks to their youth where Grandpa Wut is seen as the village’s nobleman and stuff.
It’s a nice touch but again, this is not the kind of movie for sentimental moves and tears. The usual slapstick and comedy gag we expect from Thai comedies are strangely lacking here with the exception of one comical scene where a trio of water diggers joked about monsters, ghosts and pee only to meet their gruesome deaths in the dark of night. It would be a saving grace if there are enough goofy characters to populate the movie but even the sole antagonist, lusty Boss Mee looks utterly uninteresting. Thus there’s only Kao and Fon’s on/off romance which is entirely predictable and boring.
And to address the elephant in the room, in this case the gigantic lizard. The creature in all honesty is not impressive despite being mostly shown in broad daylight. The CG effects done by visual effects company, Fat Cat Studios is pretty awful and unconvincing especially on a big screen. It’s quite a pity consider Leio is their first venture into releasing a full-length movie and their founder, Chalit Krileadmongkon is also the director.
It isn’t all that bad consider Krileadmongkon stages a few exhilarating sequences which had the lizard burrowing out of the ground attacking unsuspecting victims. The highlight of course has the creature falling asleep on a top of a truck like a lazy sloth with Mee and Jane trying to escape to their van. Unfortunately, this sort of clever scenes are few and far, we just think it would be much better if there are more adrenalin inducing bits included.
Even if the filmmakers meant to approach Leio as a cheesy B-monster movie, it lacks a lot of fun and absurdity to make things work. Halfway through, a character mentioned about a movie about underground creatures, obviously he is referencing Tremors (1990) starring Kevin Bacon. And that for the matter is truly a fantastic B-monster movie.
(Lacking believable CGI and flat-out campy fun, Leio doesn’t live up to its expectation of being a watchable B-movie)
Review by Linus Tee