Judge David Johnson is now only known as "D."
Y or N?
Y! Apparently, P is the first Thai film directed by a Westerner. There's your trivia. The movie's not bad either.
Facts of the Case
Dau is a young girl who grew up in the jungles of Thailand with her grandmother, a practicing witch. As a result, Dau is ostracized by her peers and lives a solitary life. When grandma gets sick, Dau has no choice but to travel to Bangkok and hook up with a friend to earn some cash. To do that, she begins dancing at an exotic go-go bar, which ultimately leads to prostitution and a generally icky feeling for everyone involved.
When Dau decides to get back at a particularly jerky client, she concocts some black magic—much to the chagrin of her grandmother's flashback—and arranges for a surprise urinal visit by a snake. Good fun, you would think, but the rub is this: once you start messing around with that supernatural crap, there's an excellent chance your eyes will turn yellow and you'll start slaughtering people.
Tartan has unearthed another interesting overseas horror import, which actually plays out a lot more like a melodramatic thriller with a few shocker elements tossed in for fun. The formula works; P is a compelling piece of suspense entertainment, featuring interesting characters placed in trying scenarios, one of whom makes a big decision with diabolical consequences. Despite the supernatural overtones, P feels grounded in reality and Dau is a sympathetic character tossed in a crappy situation, which goes a long way in making the horror stuff that much more jarring.
As Dau, actress Suangporn Jaturaphut brings a tangible vulnerability to the role, which is important for the payoff, when the Dark Side engulfs her. Granted, it's not terribly difficult to portray helplessness and despair when your character is a virginal sex trade worker, but Jaturaphut is absolutely convincing. And that turns her metamorphosis into a bittersweet scenario: yeah it sucks that she's possessed by a dark spirit and goes on a killing spree, but man did some of those douchebags deserve their comeuppance.
The violence itself isn't that copious. Some of it is implied and some is painful to watch—the snake vs. crotch scene didn't exactly make me feel all warm and tingly inside. Where P earns its mojo is in the premise itself, that an innocent girl forced to do terrible things makes a terrible choice and is forever corrupted. That's a fertile landscape and the film tills it for all it's worth.
The DVD is a winner, beginning with the attractive 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that puts forward a stylistic interpretation of Bangkok, juxtaposing the seedy elements of the prostitution business with the sexy dance numbers (note: despite the thematic content, there is no nudity). The 5.1 Dolby mix (Thai with English subtitles) is a fine aural companion. A solid selection of extras accompanies: a director's commentary, behind-the-scenes, a bizarre go-go bars featurette starring a dude who seems a bit too familiar with the workings of the scene, photos, and a music video.
P is a unique, moody, engrossing piece of suspense horror. Worth a look.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tartan Video
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