Film Review: P (2005) | HNN
An orphan (suangp*rn jaturaphut) must put the magical skills she learned from her grandmother to the test when her elderly caretaker falls ill. She started working as a go-go dancer to pay for her grandmother’s medicine, she uses her powers for good…or is it for evil? Writer Paul Spurrier also directs this chilling Thai-language horror film set amidst the tranquil beauty of rural Thailand and the seedy streets of Bangkok.
director: paul spurrier writers: preeyap*rn chareonbuta* paul spurrier producer: amanda baker music: paul spurrier cinematographer: rich b. Moore Jr. editor: paul spurrier cast: suangp*rn jatuaphat * opal * shaun delaney * pisamai pakdeevijit * narisara sairantanee
it was great to release a movie i knew next to nothing about other than it was a horror movie and a foreign movie from thailand. It starts with a girl named aaw leaving school and heading home. she is an outcast and picked on by the other kids. On the way home, she stops at a serene lake to take a dip in its cool, calm waters. As she swims below the surface, a zombie-like hand reaches out from the dark depths and wraps around her ankle and tries to pull her down, but aaw it slips away from her and runs all the way home. her at this point she was thinking “okay this is going to be some kind of lake monster movie akin to a creature from the black lagoon, humanoids from the deep and a demon from paradise”. And if you really know about the demon of paradise, give yourself 2 points for being a hardcore fan of cheesy monster movies! when aaw gets home she tells her grandmother that a ghost attacked her. “so this is another ghost movie.”
I thought and was disappointed, but only a little. I wanted a slimy amphibian monster man with a hunger for Thai food! but i guess i got half of my wish at the end of the movie. It turns out that the grandmother practices magic and has been teaching her methods to her granddaughter. that is why almost everyone in the surrounding towns avoids them. unfortunately grandma is old and frail and she is sick and not getting better. she needs medicine, but when aaw travels to the main town to get it, he discovers that he doesn’t have enough money to pay for what he needs and, in fact, owes money to the lady who gives him the medicine.
the lady tells aaw that if she wants, she knows of a job in bangkok where aaw can work and earn more than enough money to pay for the medicine her grandmother needs. Not having much of a choice, Aaw agrees and takes a bus to the big city. Upon his arrival, he meets a girl a few years older than her who calls herself Pookie. now, i have to stop right now and say that a phillipino friend of mine told me that pookie is a slang term for a woman’s va jay jay. now, i know that people from thailand and people from the philippines speak a totally different language, but i guess… and i hope that pookie means the same thing in both. so pookie takes aaw to a go-go bar and introduces him to mamasan, who immediately tells aaw that her name is too hard for foreigners to pronounce and tells her that she will be called dau.
now known as dau she still has no idea what to expect but hey let her take a nap before she has to start work and when she wakes up part of the reality of what she has to do will be imposes. . she has to dance on stage with a bunch of other girls but that’s not all she has to do, oh no! a white foreigner wants to spend time with her and takes little dau to a hotel and that’s where things get ugly.
the actress who plays dau, suangp*rn jaturaphat, is very young, or at least she appears to be fifteen or maybe seventeen at most, but she takes off her blouse and, although she is in a dark room, she is still undressing . versus an adult male. i’m pretty sure thailand is a conservative country and i can’t think of any of us in my head. movies that push the boundaries so far and do it so casually. not even the taxi driver! okay, they show nothing but dau sliding on her knees in front of the foreigner, but even I felt uncomfortable watching this and I’m pretty perverted! And at this point I was wondering, when will the horror element come?
I mean yeah this is heartbreaking and sad what’s happening to dau, but until now it wasn’t a traditional horror movie with scares, creepy and sinister camera work and music, or a killer lurking in the background. . when the horror comes, it comes from the use of magic. but magic has its rules and the rules of this movie are like the rules for the mogwai of the gremlins. anyone who uses magic can teach whoever he wants, but he cannot accept payment for it. another rule is that they can never walk under a hanging clothesline. the last one is that no matter how much a magic user begs, no matter how much he cries, he will never be able to eat raw meat. okay, i stole that part about gremlins begging and crying, but the part about how they can never eat raw meat is true. and over the course of the movie dau breaks all three. And what happens when you break the three laws of using sorcery? well, you are possessed by a demonic spirit that comes out of you at night to feast on human flesh the same way a lion preys on gazelles.
I liked p, but to be honest, it has some things against it. it’s a thai movie and the only thai movies i can think of that made an impression on me are tony jaa’s. but as far as horror movies go, this is the only one i’ve seen. and what kind of title is p? I saw on imdb that p is short for possessed but that’s not much better than p. then it takes a while before something horrible starts to happen. And to be really honest, if you’ve never heard the Thai language before, it’s a bit hard to get used to.
It has its good points and the same thing that detracts from it is also the reason why I like it. it was nice to see bangkok, thailand from the point of view of someone who is actually from there and knows the culture and to see a movie from a country that is not very well represented in cinema. dau’s story and her plight in the city of working at a go-go bar and being sucked into the world of prostitution basically against her will was kind of compelling and i like the way they really didn’t like foreigners and they did not trust them.
then there was the possession part when the evil demon emerges from dau and stalks the night for fresh meat and warm blood, that was pretty cool but not really as great as it reads. That said, there are plenty of movies where the ghost, ghost, demonic form, or possessed person would at least look cool, if not as scary, and for some reason when the evil dau shows up, she works on both fronts. she doesn’t turn into a monster she just looks like a demonic ghost and I know it’s all cgi but it still works and looks cool and is a little creepy! she eats human flesh and it could have been much more graphic, but they do more than just hint at it and the movie has a depressing, if somewhat ambiguous, ending.
I liked p, but with hong kong, japan, and korea at the forefront of asian horror, i don’t know how p can fight off the multitude of asian horror releases and gain notoriety even though it’s a little better than a lot of Japanese titles coming out these days.
I don’t think trying to catch p should keep you up at night, but if it falls into your lap or you see it at your local video store and you’ve got a pension for scary Asian movies, it’s worth a look.
lastly, congratulations to paul spurrier. he not only directed p but wrote the script, edited the movie and made the music. it’s an achievement just to direct a movie and get it done and then put it out for people to see but he wore so many creative hats i tip my hat to you sir. faster!