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  Ghost of Mae Nak The Newlywed Game Of Death
Year: 2005
Director: Mark Duffield
Stars: Pataratida Pacharawirapong, Siwat Chotchaicharin, Porntip Papanai, Jaran Ngamdee, Meesak Nakarat
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mae Nak is a legend of a ghostly woman who seeks a suitor to replace the man she lost when she died, but what has this to do with Mak (Siwat Chotchaicharin)? He awakes one night, thinking he hears banging on the front door of the apartment he shares with his parents, so gets up and wanders into the kitchen to take a drink of water from the fridge. The banging on the door begins again, and this time he's sure of the noise, so walks over and opens it to greet whoever is on the other side - yet there's nobody to be seen. He closes the door and the banging sounds once more, growing louder until Mak turns around and sees there is a ghostly figure standing before him - then he wakes up. His mobile phone rings and he answers it; it's his fiancée Nak (Pataratida Pacharawirapong) on the line and they've arranged to meet that morning. But was the ghost Mak saw in his dream the real thing?

What do you think? Wouldn't be much of a horror movie if she wasn't. Although even though the spirit is a genuine presence, Ghost of Mae Nak still doesn't make for much of a horror movie, sad to say. This was a Thai entry into the whole East Asian fright film scene, unusually scripted, photographed and helmed by a Westerner, Mark Duffield, a cinematographer making his directorial debut. It will be no surprise to hear that this film is around the twentieth version of the Mae Nak legend because it has the very familiar feel of a tale told perhaps a few too many times. This may be down to the fact that it slavishly imitates the much slicker shockers from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, and that's not all, as additionally you can list the references from Hollywood and British sources into the bargain.

The whole gimmick is that Mae Nak believes that Mak is destined to be her lover, never mind that he's already engaged. Mak and Nak are looking for a house to set up home together, and they think they've found the right place from a strange little landlord who tells them the house has been taken, then says he was only kidding and wanted to see how much they wanted it from their disappointment. So they now have a place to live, the wedding goes ahead, but their wedding presents are stolen in a burglary. When Mak is out one day, he notices the presents being carried by two thieves and gives chase, only to be knocked over and into a coma by their van. This is all the excuse Mae Nak needs to take him over, and now Nak has to fight her to get him back - he spends most of the rest of the film unconscious. Mae Nak has a habit of killing people off, a train decapitation here, a falling pane of glass there, though really the whole presentation is so clunky you'd be better off watching the movies that influenced Duffield. It's enjoyable enough if you're in an undiscriminating mind, but otherwise there are better Asian horrors out there. Music by Steve Bentley Klein.

[Tartan's Region 2 DVD has a documentary, director's commentary, outtakes and trailer as its extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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