Thursday, April 15, 2004

Review: Krasue (Demonic Beauty)

  • Directed by Bin Bunluert
  • Starring Ekapun Bunluerit, Natthorn Somkanae, Nak-rob Traipoe, Lakana Wattanawongsiri
  • Released in 2002; DVD with English-subtitles distributed by Mangpong (out-of-print)

A Thai ghost story, Krasue, or Demonic Beauty, deals with the legend of the what's referred to in the subtitles as the will o'the wisp, but it's the krasue - a vampiric flying head that trails its entrails. The ghost legend is common across Southeast Asia, where it is called manananggal in the Philippines, penanggalan in Malaysia or leyak in Indonesia. Other depictions on film include Mystics of Bali.

In Krasue, the CGI special effects are cartoonish and not scary enough, but I had a high level of tolerance for this movie because the story is presented in an understandable form.

In the story, a Khmer princess, Tarawatee, is captured and is to be wedded to the conquering Thai king. But she is seen consorting with a guard. The guard is executed in a beheading - the first of the comically cartoonish CGI. She is sentenced to die as well, by burning. Tarawatee's grandmother pays a visit. A young actress in bad makeup to make her look old, granny is a witch and casts a spell on Tarawatee.

At the same time, in a Thai village, an identical looking girl, Daow, is the subject of coercion by a creepy tattooed guy. She doesn't want to marry him, and spurns the guy. The guy then goes to his father, a practioner of black arts, to cast a spell on Daow. She is struck by great pain and is taken to a local doctor who can do nothing to help her.

At the same time, Tarawatee is being burned. The old witch grandmother is chanting. Tarawatee's vengeful spirit - in the form of her head and entrails - flies out and is drawn to Daow because of the black magic karma that the old man has cast upon her.

Daow comes out of her pain, but is not the same. Soon, livestock in the village turn up mutilated and the villagers have a mystery on their hands.

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