Master of Thai horror movies Shutter and The Medium reveals what truly spooks him

Thai director Banjong Pisanthanakun
PHOTO: Instagram/banjong_p

Thailand and her people are known for many wonderful things, and it's not an exaggeration when we say Thai commercials and Thai horror films are among the best in the world.

When AsiaOne got the chance to interview director Banjong Pisanthanakun — creator of horror classics like Shutter, The Man In The Middle in the anthology 4bia, and most recently The Medium — we thought it'd be cheeky to ask the man who's been scaring us to tell us what scares him the most.

The 41-year-old replied via email: "What I'm most afraid of is we, as humans, have less and less empathy today. We are ready to label and judge others quickly without any feelings, especially in the online world."

Erm, we were thinking along the lines of a white figure in the middle of the night along a quiet road, but yes, keyboard warriors send chills down our spine, too.

It might also seem like supernatural events and ghostly visitations don't occur to Banjong in real life. Because when we asked if anything spooky happened during the filming of his very scary new film The Medium, he said there was none.

"The most terrifying thing is when the movie is about to premiere and there is a new wave of Covid-19," he added.

He would be referring to his new film The Medium, which is currently showing in local cinemas.

Director Banjong Pisanthanakun with actress Sawanee Utoomma, who plays Nim in The Medium. PHOTO: Golden Villge

The bloodcurdling movie shows a documentary film crew following Nim, a shaman based in the Isan area in northern Thailand, to record her experiences, and they encounter her niece Mink showing strange symptoms that seem to be of shamanism.

The team decides to follow Mink, hoping to capture the shaman lineage passing on to the next generation, but her bizarre behaviour becomes more extreme. Gradually, the crew as well as Nim and her family realise that what could be possessing Mink might not be the goddess they think.

The movie is a collaboration between Banjong and South Korean filmmaker Na Hong-jin, who directed the 2016 Korean horror film The Wailing.

As the original story — written by Hong-jin — takes place in South Korea with the characters and cultural beliefs all Korean, Banjong tweaked it to the Thai context.

He added that he travelled to many provinces for a year as part of his research for the film. However, he added: "Not every practice shown in the movie is all real. There are a lot of details inspired by the real thing. I picked and blended them to become what you see in the movie."

If you have a strong stomach for supernatural spookiness, and especially love having a thrill during the seventh lunar month, go catch The Medium!

A still from the movie The Medium. PHOTO: Instagram/banjong_p

kwokkarpeng@asiaone.com