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.
All text on this page © Kim Newman