JUNE 14, 2009
Back in 1996, I got a cd from BMG from a band called P. The band consisted of Gibby Haynes (lead singer of Butthole Surfers), Johnny Depp, and some other guys (I think Flea was in there for at least a couple tracks too). It’s a great, odd little disc, and I keep hoping that they put out another album. But it’s damn near impossible to find any info about them (Wikipedia has helped) because the band was simply named P. How do you search for P? If MP3s were around back then, it would have been the least downloaded album of all time (it was self-titled too, natch). Anyway, I wonder if director Paul Spurrier will suffer the same fate for his film P (not related to the band, not a prequel to P2), information on which I found to be incredible scarce, even compared to other modern Asian horror films that haven’t been remade.
I doubt a remake of this one will be happening any time soon though. For starters, its too ingrained into Thai culture and Bangkok customs (i.e. young Thai women more or less being forced into prostitution, largely servicing American travelers), so a remake would likely have to pull a Shutter and have the Americans go there and awkwardly try to fit themselves into the story. Also, well, it’s about how young Thai women are forced into prostitution. How can they make a PG-13 movie out of that with Blake Lively or whoever the fuck?
And that’s a shame, because (sadly) a remake is the best way for an Asian horror film to reach a wider audience, which this film deserves. It’s got some pacing issues (my wife came in 10 minutes in, and didn’t even realize it was a horror movie until I shouted at the TV “Get to the cannibals, movie!” about forty minutes later), but at its core is a unique blend of borderline docudrama (there’s even a scene where the rules of being a Thai whore are spelled out for us, plus a pretty horrifying verbal account of our heroine’s first dealing with anal sex) and supernatural/possession horror. Our lead, the terrific Suangporn Jaturaphut, learns some magic from her grandmother, and after using it to get revenge on a particularly detestable john, becomes overcome with it after breaking the “rules” of magic, resulting her losing control over the monster that takes over her body and feeds on others, whether they deserve it or not.
Back to the rules though, LOL, this shit makes even less sense than the ones in Gremlins, and by their description, you’d think they would be even harder to break. One is to simply not eat raw meat (a steak should be cooked medium well, you fucking savages!), and another is to not pass under a clothesline (?). And you might think that one is easy to accidentally break, it’s a big city and someone could have a clothesline between two 10th story windows that she didn’t see, but the one she passes under is in her own apartment! And she knows the rules, so why she breaks them all is actually kind of a puzzler. However, as with all foreign language films, I assume any questionable plot point was answered in dialogue that I missed due to trying to watch the film itself.
There is also some surprising humor in the film. Obviously seeing a guy who took advantage of our heroine getting his dick bit off carries some cheer-worthy amusement, but I particularly liked the resident “magic man” who helps our non-demon-possessed heroine understand what is going on. There is a terrific gag where she goes to his apartment, and it’s a typically “mystic” type place, i.e. really dark and lit by candles. But suddenly, halfway through the scene, a bunch of traditional electric lights turn on, and he happily announces that the power has come back after being out for a while. Hahahaha, so good.
The Blu-Ray came with a whole bunch of extras, unfortunately I couldn’t access any of them besides the trailer. Whenever I selected the "Director's Scrapbook" on the extras page, which I assume is the documentary/deleted scenes/etc that is promised on the back cover, it just took me back to the main menu. There is also a commentary, I assume that works but I just don’t have time to listen to it right now (as it is a Blu-ray, I cannot just watch it at work like I usually do for commentaries; it’s hard enough for me to watch a 2 hour film at home with my soul mate, aka Xbox360, sitting right there and enticing me). Hopefully this is just an issue with the PS3 (or even better, my particular disc) and the extras will be accessible to everyone else. Of course, I looked to see if anyone else reported the problem, and I can’t find a single review of the DVD or Blu-Ray. Mine may be the first!
Anyway, it’s a pretty solid, interesting, and certainly non-generic genre film. The horror elements may be a bit slighter than some may like, but I didn’t mind it too much, especially considering how gory the kills are when they do come, and also considering the grim ending. And since I know it’ll be hard to find (I can't even figure out the name of the company who sent it to me for review!), just to recap: It’s called P (sometimes The Possessed), the director is Paul Spurrier, and it’s out on Blu-Ray. Seek it out.
What say you?