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Kino on Video presents
"I don't want you to get cholera."
DVD ReviewEvery culture has their share of myths and legends, including Thailand. One such legend is portrayed the 1999 horror film, Nang Nak. From director Nonzee Nimibutr, Nang Nak is a surprisingly stellar, very creepy film that could serve as a huge boon to the Thai film industry if enough people discover it now on DVD.
This legend (which has been chronicled in countless Thai television productions, apparently) comes to life in the form of the story of Mak (Winai Kraibutr), who is forced to leave his pregnant wife, Nak (Intira Jaroenpura), behind and fight a war in the 1860s. This pair appears to be spiritually linked in a way that stretches beyond the bond of their marriage. Mak is severely injured in battle and, while dreaming, seems to experience the horrific pain of Nak's labor.
After Mak, who survives his wounds, is away in recovery for a few months, he returns home to find Nak and his newborn child. All appears to be well and good between this newly formed family, but there is definitely something supernatural at play that could alter the lives of Mak and Nak, and the lives of the rest of the villagers as well.
Nang Nak is a gorgeously shot project, bringing out all of the beauty that is Thailand. Director Nimibutr's penchant for unique camera placement adds to the bleak, mysterious tone of the story, with the atmosphere that he generates playing a huge part in the film's overall terror.
There is a huge plot twist revealed midway through the film that those who are familiar with the legend will see coming a mile away. The uninitiated will be extremely shocked but, regardless, the way this revelation is handled by both the director and the actors make it an enriching, just plain scary experience. Unlike most films that rely heavily on similar major twists, Nang Nak rides its reveal all the way home instead of falling apart with nowhere to go. The ending is amazing, as it manages to be both heartbreaking and nightmare-inducing at the same time.
Having not seen nor heard of either of the main actors before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Fortunately, this is one of those movies where seeing familiar actors could have either lessened the effect of the big twist, or made it somewhat predictable. Winai Kriabutr and Intira Jaroenpura do such a phenomenal job melting into their characters that I'd be surprised if there were better Thai actors out there. Their work, along with the overall hair-raising experience, makes Nang Nak well worth tracking down.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The gorgeous cinematography of Nang Nak is treated very well in this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. From the rays of the sun shining through the many trees in Thailand, to the incessant rain showers, every bit of detail is captured here. Shadows play a huge part in the dark imagery, and, fortunately, those, along with the black levels, are handled nicely. The slightest bit of grain is present, but nothing to hamper the excellent color rendering, or any other aspect of this presentation.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is somewhat lively, but doesn't provide the enveloping experience that many of today's domestic horror films offer. Still, there's enough of a surround presence to effectively capture and enhance some of the more intense scares in the film. The Thai dialogue is delivered sharply, and fits right in with the rest of the audio mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The only extras are a biography and filmography for director Nonzee Nimibutr.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsHorror fans would be doing themselves a huge favor to give Nang Nak a look. Kino finally makes this Thai film easier to get a hold of thanks to its DVD release, which features adequate audio and video, but no worthwhile extras.
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