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  Medium, The Thai Cover Versions
Year: 2021
Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun
Stars: Narilya Gulmongkulpech, Sawanee Utoomma, Sirani Yankittikan, Yasaka Chaisorn, Boonsong Nakphoo, Arunee Wattana, Thanutphon Boonsang, Pakathol Srirongmuang, Akkaradech Rattanawong, Chatchawat Sanveang, Yossawat Sittiwong, Arnon Losiripanya
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is a documentary about Nim (Sawanee Utoomma), a middle-aged Thai medium, or shaman, if you prefer, who is here to talk about her experiences in the profession of being in touch with the spirit world and its denizens who make contact from the other side. She explains that if you have cancer, then you are better off not going to visit her, as she is on the supernatural angle where if you have ill-tempers or troublesome thoughts and behaviours, she can identify what kind of maladjusted spirit has attached itself to you and how you can rid yourself of it. This involves a lot of ritual - chanting, mixing herbs, praying and so on - but what if some of these entities needed more than this to purge them? What if one in particular was very persistent?

The Medium was not a documentary, of course, it was a horror movie from Thailand that started out seeming authentic, but as Nim's niece Mink (Narilya Gulmongkulpech) starts acting strangely, it found diversions into what were, frankly, rip-offs of Hollywood chillers and shockers, anything from The Blair Witch Project to Paranormal Activity to The Conjuring franchise to that seemingly indestructible reference point even this far after the fact, The Exorcist. But there was a Thai twist to this that sustained the attention, despite the temptation to roll the eyes and dismiss it as too much in thrall to bigger hits, and a lot of that was down to the trappings of the shaman ways of life that director Banjong Pisankathun boosted his hackneyed borrowings with.

Bear in mind, however, that there was a lot of this, as if the director was keen to include as many of his influences as he possibly could, obsessively hedging his bets to ensure there was not a trick of the trade he missed out. It was quite impressive to witness what was effectively a greatest hits compendium, of other people's hits, that was, shot through with local colour so that while you would never be fooled you were watching something original, you could well be amused that you were watching a fan's love letter to his favourite genre that did not come up with much that was new to bring to the table, but did display an admirable dedication to putting his own spin on existing properties. And cramming them all into over two hours running time, which would likely exhaust anyone but the most seasoned horror aficionado since not five minutes went by without some disaster befalling Mink's family.

Mink is a normal young woman, or so she seems, who starts behaving eccentrically at work and at home, initially being brought to a head when she has a painful period at the workplace after sleeping in the office all night. The more we find out about her, the less sane she seems, from her bursts of violence to CCTV footage of her shagging her co-workers as much as possible, all signs she is not only not in her right mind, but as Nim suspects, may be harbouring the spirit who once afflicted Nim when she was younger, leading her into the mediumship racket. From then on, even the most casual fan will be marking off the allusions, from Mink going all Linda Blair and having to be restrained, though Nim is older, so gets to rip open her top to give us an eyeful, the movie's exploitation heart worn on its sleeve, to the Blair Witch running through the surrounding woods with a plentiful supply of panicky cameramen to be picked off one by one as the climactic rituals gets way out of hand. You admired its cheek in a Turkish Star Wars kind of manner (or maybe Turkish Exorcist - Seytan - would be more apt), and it was certainly eventful, played with gusto. Music by Chatchai Pongprapaphan.

[Premieres Thursday, October 14 2021 on Shudder.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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