Friday, October 20, 2006

The Ghost of Mae Nak (2005)

I love Asian horror - favorites include Tale of Two Sisters, Ju-On, Ringu, The Eye, Suicide Club and Battle Royale. The Ghost of Mae Nak just didn't work for me though. Don't get me wrong, the film is shot beautifully, but it just doesn't pack a punch like my fave Asian films do.

The beginning of the film introduces us to the ghost straightaway. Mak is having nightmares of a pale woman with a black mouth and black oval-shaped hole in her forehead. She's pretty freaky, but Mak is too happy engaged to Nak to pay too much attention to his realistic nightmares. Mak and Nak are to be married in a week, so they buy a run-down house in a section of Bangkok. Upon moving in, Mak's nightmares get worse and strange things begin happening. Anyone who causes the couple misfortune meets a bloody end. After Mak is put into a coma by a hit and run accident, Nak discovers that their new house was once Mae Nak's house.

The legend of Mae Nak is an old one in Thailand, in which Mae Nak was so in love with her husband (also named Mak) that her spirit survived beyond the grave to be with him. Now she is looking out for the best interest of Mak and Nak, another couple that has found true love - or is she? Things take an ominous turn as Nak discovers more and more about Mae Nak's vengeful ways.

Again, this wasn't by any means a horrible movie, it was just so-so. I think they showed Mae Nak way too soon in the movie, which made her much less scary. Also, the story was a little confusing at times, especially the back story of Mae Nak. I usually love Asian horror films, but this one lacked the strangeness and creepiness of most. The twist at the end was just tacked on for shock value, and it wasn't even effective, just hokey.

I did enjoy the scenes that showed Thai life and customs, like Mak and Tak's wedding and the bar scene that featured a hardcore band! I guess it just didn't feel like a horror movie, more like a Discovery Channel special on urban Thailand. It lacked any kind of creepy or ominous atmosphere, though it did have its share of cool death scenes. My favorites included a guy who is sliced in half by a glass window pane and another clumsy guy who manages to light himself on fire and get skewered on a barbeque.

I would skip this film unless you want some insight into Thai culture or want a very tame Asian ghost story with a heavy romantic angle. Good effort, but this movie just doesn't cut it alongside such creepies as Ringu, Ju-On, Tale of Two Sisters, etc.

Check it out on Amazon!

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