If you haven't already seen it, Pee Mak is a Thai comedy-horror film directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun, who also directed some of Thailand's biggest horror flicks such as 4bia, Shutter.
The film is based on the old Thai folklore (Legend of Mae Nak), in which a soldier returns to his village from war to find his wife, Mae Nak, waiting for him. But little does he know that Mae Nak actually died during childbirth, and is now lingering in the world of the living as a spirit in order to stay with her husband. Villagers try to warn him about his wife, but.. well, they all died a horrible death.
However, instead of the usual pure-horror adaptations that have been on the big screen for a few dozen times, Director Banjong Pisanthanaku decides to distinguish itself from that by combining the elements of comedy, romance, and horror all into this 112 minute film. And you would be surprised to find out that, it's actually pretty good, like, really good. With the perfect balance of the three genres inserted at the right timing, it's no wonder Pee Mak turned out to be the highest grossing film in Thailand as well as one of Asia's highest grossing film of all time.
But one thing's for sure if you're an avid horror fan, this film WILL be a disappointment for you, because it's sure to make you laugh more than anything else.
Set in the Rattanakosin Kingdom era, a young man Pee Mak (Mario Maurer) goes off to protect his country, leaving behind his pregnant wife, Nak (Davika Hoorne). While Mak fights for his life in the battlefield against the enemy, Nak struggles to give birth to their baby, but unfortunately dies in the process. However, the strong and undying love between Nak and Mak has allowed her spirit to remain in the world of the living, waiting for Mak to return home.
Wounded and losing hope, Mak takes out his photo of Nak and vows to return home safely to raise their child together. On his return (by boat), Mak and his Gang Of Four* (Ter, Aey, Shin, and Puak) were surprised to find out that the whole village has became deserted, as it sailed slowly into the village. But little did they know that the villagers were actually hiding from the ghost of Mak's wife ! Seeing nothing wrong with that, Mak discovers his wife and child waiting for him and jumped right into her embrace.
After their return to Phra Kanong village, Mak's buddies begin to suspect that something didn't feel right, after seeing the villagers hiding at the sight of their appearance. They finally caught on to the whole situation after a drunk woman shouted "Nak is dead !" and died a few days later, her son insisting on the fact that her mom was killed by Nak (apparently for letting out her secret).
* The Gang Of Four include Ter (Nuttapong Chartpong), Puak (Pongsatorn Jongwilas), Shin (Attharut Kongrasri) and Aey (Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk), getting the title after having worked together in many of Pisanthanaku's films.
Hilarity ensues as Mak's buddies go all out to warn him of his unearthly partner in the form of using all sorts of tricks and weird ideas to clue him in. One of those ideas include a long game of charades, which ended in tragedy after they accidentally pointed out that Nak is dead.
The bulk of this 112 minute film is spent following the four buddies as they shriek, run, fall, and even swim their way through the movie, all for the sake of their friend. Not only that, the film also plays with the audiences' preconceptions repeatedly, using enough twists to tease everyone with the possibility that maybe Nak isn't the one that's dead afterall, but one of the guys instead. Afterall, all of them were shot and severely wounded at war in the beginning, so it gives plenty of possibility that maybe one, if not all of them, may already be dead.
However, apart from the shouting and flailing of arms (we can only put up with so much), the film is quick to recover and surprise everyone with an emotional finale, perhaps for fear of boring the audience out with the repetitive hysterical behavior of its cast.
After the horror-filled ordeal, the four buddies seek refuge in a Buddhist temple, with Mak knocked out cold and tied up, because he wouldn't follow them. Silence fills the temple as the pitter patter of the raindrops got louder and louder.. The melodrama begins as soon as Nak burst through the door of the temple, first screaming at Mak's buddies for interfering with her and Mak's happiness, followed by her explaining how badly she wishes for Mak to find happiness and not be afraid of her, because she knows how afraid Mak is, of ghosts. And that she would gladly leave him alone if that is what Mak desires.. The finale of the film definitely caught everyone by surprise as sounds of people sniffing and blowing their noses slowly filled the whole movie theatre.
With that said, Pee Mak makes for an enjoyable experience if you're a beginner to horror films, with a lot more LOLs than heart-stopping scares. It's definitely worth a watch if you feel like bursting out your guts laughing at another great Thai film this weekend. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two more about Thai folklore (in a less serious and frightening way).
But don't just take my word for it, enjoy this trailer of Pee Mak !