4 December 2006 | jluis1984
More than your typical Asian horror film!
In the late 90s, the cinema of Thailand experienced the growth of a resurgence, a New Wave of Thai film-making that helped to restore the confidence in the country's film industry, and proved that Thai films could achieve worldwide critical and commercial success. This resurgence attracted a couple of young filmmakers from Hong Kong, the Pang Brothers (Oxide and Danny Pang), who made a series of stylish horror films in Thailand bringing the influence of Japanese horror to the country. Bhandit Thongdee's "The Unborn" is one of the films that clearly show the influence that the Pang brothers had in Thai Horror, and it gives signs that probably, one day the students will surpass the master.
"The Unborn" (or "The Mother") is the story of Por (Intira Jaroenpura), a young woman who works as bartender in a popular nightclub. One night, she is brutally beaten by her former drug dealer Ord (Wannakit Sirioput) who throws her to a lake thinking she is dead. The next day she awakes at the hospital, where Dr. Rudee (Aranya Namwong) has been taking care of her after she was miraculously saved from drowning; however, not all are good news, as she is informed that she is also pregnant. As she recovers from her wounds, she begins to have horrible visions of a strange female ghost that seems to be decided to drive her insane. At first she thinks those are hallucinations caused by the shock and the withdrawal from drugs she is experiencing, but soon the visions become more real, and dangerous.
Written and directed by Bhandit Thongdee, "The Unborn" plays like a classic ghost story, where our main character, Por, must find the answers to the mystery of why is the ghost haunting her and what does she must do to get rid of her supernatural influence. Following the ghost story blueprint to the letter, Thongdee creates an interesting mystery that slowly gets unfolded as the story moves on while putting some very creepy scenes as the haunting takes place. Despite the apparent lack of originality, Bhandit Thongdee adds some interesting bits of Thai folklore (as the plot is supposedly based on a real story) and drug addictions that truly spice up things a bit and gives a somewhat fresh face to the story.
Visually, the film is remarkably good, with both the cinematography (by Surachet Thongmee) and the special effects (good mix of traditional and CG effects) showing an excellent and creative use of their limited resources. Clearly influenced by the horror films of the Pang brothers, the movie features a very atmospheric, yet modern look that at times recalls the Pangs' "Gin Gwai" ("The Eye"), but with a focus on the decadent dread of hospitals. Thongdee may be playing with clichés in his movie, but he manages to pull out some very good scenes that definitely make those clichés work. Sure, it's derivative and conventional, but the way the movie is executed shows that Thongdee has a future ahead in Thai cinema.
Along with Thongdee's direction, what truly makes the film to stand out are the excellent performances of Intira Jaroenpura and Wannakit Sirioput. Intira delivers a really believable turn as the young "lost girl" Por, whose cynic view to her apparently meaningless life gets suddenly changed by the supernatural force that haunts her. Sirioput is remarkably good as the psychotic drug dealer Ord, although it is Intira who ultimately carries the film. The rest of the small cast is very effective, with Aranya Namwong delivering great acting as Dr. Rudee, although the focus of the film doesn't allow her to shine.
In the end, "The Unborn"'s main problem could be summarized as a notorious lack of originality, in the sense that it doesn't attempt to do anything that hasn't been done before (and better) in many other occasions. However, this also works as a virtue, as the film's fulfills its purpose without any pretension besides to entertain. Fans of the Asian horror sub genre will find in the film an interesting (and different) take on a well-known story, but those tired of female ghost will only find another film to hate.
By the hand of creative filmmakers, the Thai cinema is beginning a slow but constant development that looks very promising so far, and that already has started to show good results. "The Unborn" shows that its cast and crew have a lot of potential to become major stars in the growing Thai film industry, and hopefully soon we'll discover new and better films from that Thai country. 7/10