Pee Mak (2013) Movie Review
Written By: FR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun
Writers: Paiboon Damrongchaitham, Boosaba Daorueng, Jina Osothsilp, et. al.
Date Released: March 28, 2013
Mario Maurer as Mak
Davika Hoorne as Nak
Nattapong Chartpong as Ter
Pongsatorn Jongwilak as Puak
Wiwat Kongrasri as Shin
Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk as Aey
Sean Jindachot as Ping
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Mak served in the war during the beginning of the Rattanakosin Dynasty. At war he became friends with Ter, Puak, Shin, and Aey, whose lives he saved. Once the war was over, Mak invited his four friends into his home in Phra Khanong town and introduced them to his beautiful wife Nak and his newborn baby boy Dang. A rumor was going around in the village that Nak had died giving birth to her stillborn baby, Dang. The four friends felt it’s time to tell Mak the possibility of Nak and Dang could be dead and lingered as haunting ghosts and risk their lives. It’s up to Mak to choose love or reality.
The film isn’t a horror movie in the traditional sense of the genre. Pisunthanakun approaches the familiar folk tale with the same tongue-in-cheek attitude as his shorts in “4Bia” and “Phobia 2”. Yes, it’s a comedy-horror more than a straight-out horror. There is very minimal blood shown such as the scene where Nak was seen bleeding while calling for help when she was supposed to be giving birth. Also, in the beginning of the movie, there is the disturbing scenes of the war and all the injuries of the four friends.
The Grave Review
Pee Mak Phrakanong (or simply Pee Mak) is a playful, often anachronistic retelling of the famous Thai ghost story, Mae Nak Phra Kanong (Lady Nak of Phra Kanong). Set roughly 100 years ago, during the turbulent Rattanakosin Kingdom era, a young man, Mak (Mario Maurer), is sent off to war, leaving behind his beautiful pregnant wife, Nak (Davika Hoorne). While Mak is away fighting, Nak and her baby die during childbirth. Mak is wounded but vows to make it home alive. On his return, Mak discovers his wife and child waiting for him, and he refuses to listen to the villagers who try to inform him he is living with a ghost.
In this regard, this new version of the story is true to its classical roots, however Pisanthanakun’s take on the story differs by the inclusion of Mak’s four wise-cracking war buddies. They are first introduced on the battlefield alongside Mak, only to accompany him home and take up residence in the house next door.
As expected, it is from these four characters that much of the film’s humor arises. Early on after their return to Phra Kanong village, Mak’s friends begin to suspect that all is not what it appears, and when they discover a decomposing corpse buried behind the house, they are convinced that Nak is in fact a ghost and that their friend is in danger – and that they are too!
Almost all of the film’s laughs come from Nattapong Chartpong, Pongsatorn Jongwilak, Wiwat Kongrasri and Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk as Pisanthanakun’s foursome of likely lads. The bulk of the film’s 115-minute runtime is spent following them as they run, scream, fall, cower and pratfall their way through the movie, trying in vain to warn their friend of his supernatural predicament. The film repeatedly plays with audience preconceptions, teasing us with the possibility that one or more characters may also be dead already.
Finally, here we get to the film’s central problem. There is only so much running, screaming and otherwise hysterical behavior the viewers can put up with, without significantly carrying the narrative forward. For a large part of its second half, the film feels like its treading water and repeating itself. Admittedly, it does regain traction for an entertaining finale in a Buddhist temple, but the film would certainly benefit from more judicious editing and perhaps losing around 20 minutes from its running time.
Pee Mak (2013) makes for a refreshing and enjoyable experience. It is never scary, but it is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and populated by characters who for the most part, we actually care about. The film is quintessentially Thai, riffing on historically significant cultural touch points, while shooting squarely for a modern, contemporary crowd pleaser and hitting its mark dead on
Because of the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Pee Mak (2013) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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