|Banjong on the set of Pee Mak Phra Khanong. Nation photo by Thanis Sudto.|
Banjong Pisunthanakun, half of the directorial duo that brought Thai horror to the world stage in the 2000s with Shutter and Alone, is back doing horror after his foray into romantic comedy with the 2010 hit Hello Stranger.
He took part in the omnibus project The ABCs of Death, produced by Drafthouse Films and Magnet Pictures, which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and was released last week in video-on-demand form in the U.S. A limited theatrical release in the U.S. is also planned for next month. Banjong talks a bit about his "wicked and fun" segment, N is for Nuptials, in an interview at Strange Kids Club.
At this point, there's no hint that The ABCs be released in Thai cinemas, so perhaps Banjong's local fans will want to keep an eye out for a DVD release.
But set for big screens in Thailand on March 28 is a new feature, Pee Mak Phra Khanong (พี่มาก..พระโขนง), a new spin on the old Mae Nak Phra Khanong story of the ghost wife, which has been filmed dozens of times but is largely known for the 1999 version, Nang Nak by Nonzee Nimibutr and writer Wisit Sasanatieng.
It continues in the horror-comedy direction Banjong took with his segments of the GTH horror anthologies Phobia and Phobia 2, and he brings along the hilarious quartet of actors from those shorts, Nattapong Chartpong, Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk, Pongsatorn Jongwilak and Wiwat Kongrasri, who are in supporting roles.
With the characters blacking up their teeth, the costume period piece is set around 100 years ago when the totally fictional Mae Nak "lived", Pee Mak is from the point of view of the husband, Mak, played by Mario Maurer. He goes away to war, leaving behind his pregnant wife Nak who then dies giving birth. When he returns, he has no clue that his wife and baby are ghosts. Nak is portrayed by Davika Horne.
He talks about it today in The Nation, which got to visit the set:
“Usually Mak doesn’t know that his wife is a ghost and he’s shocked when he discovers the truth. I’ve attempted to revamp the story in such a way that it will surprise the audience yet not deal a blow to a tale that they love,” says the director.
It took almost 18 months to complete the script and while Banjong says his film is a comedy, he also makes it clear it is not a parody along the lines of Scary Movie.
“It is definitely my style of comedy though, the kind you can see in Hello Stranger or in my segments of Phobia and Phobia 2 … you know the drollness in the dialogue and the satire,” he says.
The Nation also has a video of the visit.