British-directed Thai horror films seem somewhat like buses: you wait ages for one, then two arrive at once. Perhaps inevitably there was then something of a dispute the makers of P and Ghost Of Mae Nak as to who was first – albeit with the latter's writer-director-cinematographer Mark Duffield also reminding us that the first Brit to direct film in Thailand actually did so in the silent era.

In truth, however, the two films are very different.

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The lower-budgeted P attempted to be both an exploitation film and a commentary on sexual exploitation in Bangkok's red light district. While undoubtedly well-intentioned, it, unsurprisingly, suffered from a somewhat confused message and, indeed, drew criticism from the Thai authorities for presenting the wrong images of their country.

A better-resourced film, with a slicker Hollywood style/J-Horror approach, Ghost of Mae Nak simultaneously sets its sights lower and higher.

Mak (Siwat Chotchaicharin) and Nak (Pataratida Pacharawirapong), are in love and about to be married. Looking for a house, they find one going for a bargain price and, caring nothing for its past history nor tales of evil spirits make a purchase they [em]may[/em] live to regret.

For though a series of coincidences, the ghost of Mae Nak (Porntip Papanai) – think black-toothed Thai variant on the now-standard white-skin, black-hair J- or K-horror type – returns to the world and promptly takes Mak to be her own long-dead love...

This is content to be a genre film, while presenting Bangkok as a modern city, self-consciously avoiding the usual sex-tourist stereotypes. Yet, paradoxically this representation also serves to make it more accessible to western audiences than P, insofar as the concerns of its young, middle-class protagonists are universalised.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2007
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A young couple fall foul of a ghost.
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Director: Mark Duffield

Writer: Mark Duffield

Starring: Pataratida Pacharawirapong, Siwat Chotchaicharin, Porntip Papanai

Year: 2005

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Thailand


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