Neko has another lil’ Thai film review for you. This time out, the creepy lil’ chiller, “The Spiritual World” aka “Winyan lok khon dtai”, on english subtitled DVD fresh from my latest Singapore mail order.
The synopsis reads: “Ming is a troubled young woman who has been able to see ghosts and contact to the dead ever since she was a little girl. It’s been 15 years since she managed to escape from a mysterious ghost that kept following her. One day she meets a young doctor named Buud, who visits her with a purpose. Buud knows that Ming can contact to the dead, so he wants her to find the reason behind the death of his father. While his father’s death was recorded by the police as being suicide, he believes it was murder. The appearance of Buud brings back memories of the past, and now Ming must face a truth that is even more terrible. For now she is being stalked by that same lost soul who is far more dangerous than any Ghost she has met so far.”
Ooooohhh!!! Sounds good! So naturally you are going to want to “Read On”, right? Hehehehe!!
Naturally, this one immediately makes you think “Oh, no… Not another “She sees Dead People” rip off of “The Sixth Sense”….” Luckily, this lil’ Catgirl can tell you that while it treads similar themes, it’s NOT a simple copy of that oft done idea. Much of the Thai concepts of an all pervasive world of restless spirits seeking to end the ties that bind them to our mortal world is the rule of the day here. There’s nobody wandering around thinking they are alive when they really aren’t……
Our heroine Ming, ( played by Nuttamonkan Srinikornchot) starts the film as a wandering bedraggled vagabond, (reminding me much of Samantha from “Kuntilanak 2”…) moving from apartment to dingy apartment always dodging the attentions of spirits and those who want her to contact them for their own selfish reasons. She has that whole “shellshocked” and slightly crazy homeless look down pat and is very convincing in her role. The first thing that gets you wondering is how she always seems to move into a place reputed to be haunted by exceptionally active spirits… especially if she is trying to avoid them. But there’s a method to her madness…. seems there’s a particularly scary spirit always following her and by moving near other spirits, she keeps it away…. for a while.
Enter Buud, (played by Anuchit Sapanpong) a slightly crazy young medical doctor who works at the city morgue and who obsesses about his father’s death. Maybe it was a suicide like the police say… but then maybe it wasn’t. Only Ming can talk to dad’s spirit and find out for sure. Luckily, even though Ming can’t remember the trauma of her childhood, Buud knew her then…. and he knows she was there the day his father died…. I can’t really go into the plot much more without ruining the ending, but let’s just say things get awfully tangled up in the last half of this one while the truth of that day reveals itself to Ming at long last…..
This one is a very atmospheric film, and the cinematographer knew just how to light the scenes, film the angles and use all the tricks of the trade to give it an uneasy and very off kilter feel very much complementary to the story. The acting is good…. particularly by Nuttamonkan Srinikornchot, who plays her role seriously, but without the melodramatic excesses that often come with such characters in Asian cinema. The overall direction and pacing are good as well, director Tharatap Thewsomboon tells a simple story without overly embellishing the plot with any superfluous elements that would distract you from the story. Also…. despite my initial thought, this one isn’t really a romance story either. Ming and Buud are more like mutual victims of a tragedy that need each other more as companions in misery than any other more romantic ideas.
Overall… this was a good one. There wasn’t the level of gore that sometimes accompanies Thai Ghost movies, but the eerie uneasy atmosphere of “The Spiritual World” suits it perfectly. The Singapore Region 3 PAL disc is excellent as well…. with no strange editing or mosaicking to ruin things. It’s also presented in a good letterbox format with the usual excellent separate english subtitles this lil’ Catgirl likes (and desperately needs).
So….. Neko-chan gives “The Spiritual World” 4 “Meows” out of 5 for being just the creepy sort of ghost story this girl likes to spend an evening curled up on the couch watching. If you also like these sorts of films, I think you’ll enjoy it as well…..
And of course, there’s a creepy Trailer available for this one too… so here ya go!