Buppah Rahtree (2003)

This Thai horror film opens with a long section, solemnly narrated by rich young man Ake Dunrongsgup (Kris Srepoomseth), that seems to set up a doomy but conventional tale of romance and cruelty. Ake shyly stalks Buppah Rahtree (Chermarn Poonyasak), a good student who seems wholly devoted to work, and courts her gently - but videotapes their eventual lovemaking, which wins him a bet with a college buddy that he has devoted a whole month of play-acting to. Ake is overwhelmed by guilt and tries to make up to the girl he has abandoned but, when she reveals that she's pregnant, arranges a botched abortion and skips the country - whereupon Buppah dies a sad, lonely death in her grim apartment. Then the film changes mood and introduces a whole new set of low-comic characters around the apartment block, which becomes haunted by Buppah's increasingly deranged, dangerous and persistent ghost. We get bungled comedy exorcisms from a con-man magician supported by the landlady and a pair of Exorcist-parody Catholic priests. A tiny bit features a snobbish screenwriter who sneers at audiences for preferring films about shrieking idiots running away from ghosts to the sensitive human stories he writes, and there's a possibility that director-writer Yuthlert Sippapak hoped to deliver both – but the 'sensitive' scenes are a melange of clichés that range from A Place in the Sun to The Rage: Carrie 2 and the comedy business is shrill, clod-hopping and mercilessly drawn-out. Finally, Ake returns to Buppah and suffers an Audition-like double amputation – though this seems to take place after he has become a ghost to join her in a wretched haunting afterlife.

First published in this form here.

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