After bursting onto the scene in 2004 with the Thai kaiju drama Garuda, Monthon then made 2006's The Victim, a twisty thriller that revisited some "true crime" murder scenes around Bangkok. I didn't see that either, but I'll be darned if it hasn't been issued on English-subtitled DVD by Tartan Asian Extreme. Garuda is out on English-friendly DVD, too.
With The House, Monthon again visits the realm of true crime. Here is the official synopsis (via 24fps):
Inspired by a true story of three horrible murders that happen to three women in different times. The film tells the story of Chalinee, a girl who becomes obsessed at finding the truth behind the past cruel murders. Finally, it leads her to a house where the crimes started. Something haunts the house and it will prove to be the most most terrible experience of her life.
Nang Nak's Intira Jaroenpura, who also portrayed an archery-skilled warrior princess in last year's Naresun II, stars as the reporter Chalinee. Others in the cast are Chatcha Rujinanon, Chamanun Wonwinwate, Komsun Nuntajit and Nuttawat Plengsiriwat. Writer-director Kongdej Jaturanrasamee is featured in a small role.
It was the No. 1 film the first weekend of its release on September 6, 2007, according to Box Office Mojo, but dropped out of the Top 5 after two weeks. The wildly successful rom-com The Bedside Detective (which I also didn't bother seeing) was released at the same time and held the top spot during those two weeks.
Now, months later, it's The House that is being remembered by at least two Thai film critics. One is Jit Phokaew, an eclectic cinephile who writes Limitless Cinema in Broken English. He put The House at No. 1 on his list of Top 10 Favorite Thai Films for 2007 for Senses of Cinema.
Jit notes that another Thai critic, Manotham Teamtheabrat, also chose The House as his favorite Thai film of 2007. In a recent post, Jit says:
The House might not be a good film, but I love it a lot because of many reasons. I was drawn to the film since the beginning, when a character poses a question, “Why do some women hurt other women?” The film seems not to answer this question or pay real attention to it. But this question seems to hint since the beginning that The Hou8se might be my kind of film – [a] film about hatred, unreasonable hatred. Why do we hurt other people without reasons? That’s the question I would like to see elaborated in other Thai films, instead of just preaching that we should love other people. That kind of thing doesn’t need to be taught in films. We should know it already.
I don’t fully understand The House. The House also seems to question why some family members who love each other so much turn to kill each other later. I’m not sure if The House provides some definite answers to this question. But it doesn’t have to answer. I already love this film with all my heart just because it seems to be interested in this question.
I guess this teaches me to be dismissive of certain genres, especially if they are Thai films, because how they are promoted and how they actually turn out to be are often wildly different.