Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Medium / ร่างทรง - Movie Review

The Movie: The Medium / ร่างทรง

The Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun

The Cast: Sawanee Utoomma, Narilya Gulmongkolpech, Sirani Yankittikan, Yasaka Chaisorn

The Story: A horrifying story of a shaman's inheritance in the Isan region of Thailand. What could be possessing a family member might not be the Goddess they make it out to be.

The Review:
Sometimes you think an idea has been covered so many times and with so many variations that no one could ever come up with something new and then a movie comes out and makes you realize that there will always be an endless supply of ideas when it comes to theatrical storytelling. I mean, who hasn't seen at least a dozen or two possession stories and figured, well that's gotta be it and yet here we are with yet another, and a darned good one for that matter. Also, who hasn't seen what you might feel is too many found footage movies and maybe even hoping for a bit of a slowdown and yet here we are with yet another, and a darned good one for that matter.

Director Banjong Pisanthanakun combines a possession horror story with a found footage film and wraps it up documentary style into a nerve rattling, uneasy experience that had me pulling the covers a little tighter and wondering if maybe I should turn a light on just to be safe. For me the entire thing was fascinating especially given the fact that it's done in a documentary style which makes it feel all the more real and that much more creepy. Be warned, the story is a slow burn that you have to stick with for the eventual payoff and I don't mean that any point of the story is dull or uninteresting, it is just very deliberate and takes its time drawing you in.

The film is based on an original story from Na Hong-jin, who is probably most well known for his movie The Wailing which I sadly still need to see so don't look for a review, and he also produced the movie so his fingerprints and DNA can most definitely be felt throughout. Not literally. That would be weird. That being said, the overall feel of the movie is very dark and creepy and yet Pisanthanakun still manages to show off the beauty and culture of the Isan area in Northern Eastern Thailand. If you don't know where that is, it's the part of Thailand that primarily borders Cambodia and Laos and if you don't know where that is, take a look at a map. It's a beautiful part of the world and worth checking out.

I think another thing that makes this film work so well is the quality of the performances from the cast which adds to the feeling of this being documentary footage and not a narrative fiction. Narilya Gulmongkolpech makes her film debut by playing Mink, a young woman who becomes possessed and goes through some crazy transformations so this was no easy task and she pulls it all off beautifully. Actually, I'm not sure if beautiful is the right descriptive word because things do get pretty ugly, so I'll say that watching her character evolve, or devolve, over the course of the film is quite fascinating.

The Verdict:
The Medium is everything I was hoping it would be. It's dark, it's creepy, it's frightening, and it adds a unique take on multiple facets of the horror landscape. The story is a bit of an unsettling journey through uncharted territory and well worth the effort.

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