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In Bangkok, the groom Mak is scared, having successive nightmares with a ghost woman, Mae Nak, an ancient Thai legend. He meets his beloved fiancée Nak to visit an old house in Phrakhanong with the unscrupulous real state agent Angel and they decide to buy the property. After their wedding, two small time thieves break into the house and steal their gifts and other objects. When Mak sees the criminals on the streets of Bangkok selling his goods, he chases the burglars and they run their van over Mak, who gets into a deep coma. Mae Nak protects the young couple against Angel and the burglars, but in return she holds the soul of Mak. Nak finds the remains of Mae Nak in an ancient cemetery, and with some monks, they exorcise Mae Nak from Mak and release her spirit. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ghost of Mae Nak Proves a Horror Film Doesn't Necessarily Need to Terrify it's Audience in order to be Entertaining
Ghost of Mae Nak is not the traditional horror film viewers of the genre may be accustomed to. Although the movie makers obviously attempt to frighten the audience, the film is based on Thai folklore, and in this sense works more as a story that could be told to children around a camp fire, than a grisly tale destined to provoke fear. For those after a film that provides an endless amount of terror, you may want to look elsewhere. If you are interested in a movie where the horror elements take a backseat, while the story consistently remains in the foreground, then this particular feature might be for you.
Unlike other films in the horror genre, where the audience is treated only to small glimpses of the apparition for the majority of the feature until the final quarter, in this particular film, viewers are immediately greeted by Mae Nak in the first few minutes. The image of a woman with jet black eyes and a gaping mouth is not something we haven't seen before, and the inclusion of a hole in the center of her forehead does little to heighten the level of terror.
On many an occasion, moments meant to scare the audience are not only predictable, but more than half the time the movie falls into the trap of enveloping many of its scenes under the shroud of darkness, and rather than reeling backwards in terror, we are leaning forwards, squinting at the screen. Due to the level of darkness, a vast number of shadows are present, and it seems that an opportunity to use these to advantageously increase the level of horror was unfortunately overlooked.
Again, in contrast with horror movies that frequently use stereotypical genre tropes, Ghost of Mae Nak becomes heavily reliant on music, to the point that sometimes it seemed the score reserved for moments of horror was being played unnecessarily to provoke a response. Due to this, the suspenseful moments of the film, although sometimes initially exciting, never truly keep the audience enthused.
Moreover, although a couple of the death scenes are very impressive in their execution, the level of overacting that occasionally accompanies these moments prevents the audience from taking the scene seriously. Before one particular individual is decapitated, the scene of his mouth wide open in fear, hands extended out before him, appears less like legitimate fear, and more like a poor imitation.
This aside, Pataratida Pacharawirapong as Nak deserves kudos for her acting capabilities, exhibiting reactions that are as entertaining as they are real. She, alongside fiancé Mak (Siwat Chotchaicharin) purchase a house in Phrakhanong for them to move into once they are wed, the place they will soon call their residence having a long history, been one of the oldest homes in the area. Mak is immediately plagued by ghostly images in his dreams, but after a horrific tragedy cripples the young couple, they are forced to turn towards otherworldly means of support. Though the ghost of Mae Nak appears eager to assist the couple, how can you trust a ghost, especially one with a vengeful past, for what ulterior motives could she possibly possess?
The familial bonds, alongside the connections of friendship and love are well articulated, and the character dramas that transpire are effectively incorporated into the plot. Furthermore, despite the aforementioned scenes of darkness, the environments viewers are presented with really bring the world the characters reside in to life, Thailand been shown for the country it is, rather than the mirage that outsiders may occasionally imbue it as, a tactic similarly used in the Singaporean horror film The Maid.
Although Ghost of Mae Nak could never be hailed as a terrific horror movie, the film captures the culture and feel of the region, and does justice to a traditional folk story that obviously has much significance.
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