I have a lot of respect for Asian horror movies, so I had high expectations for Bangkok Haunted. Sadly, the movie did not live up to those expectations and is not even close to being in the same league as Asian movies like The Ring or The Grudge.
Bangkok Haunted has a runtime of two hours and ten minutes and is an anthology of three stories held together by a wraparound story.
The first story is about an antique drum that turns up as an unexpected addition to a consignment of goods delivered to a young lady named Jieb who soon discovers the drum beats to a more sinister beat than most other drums because the damned thing is haunted. Jieb handles this strange turn of events pretty well and, with the help of one of her old college tutors, Professor Arkhorn, she starts to delve into the drums past; so part of the story is set in the modern day world and the rest at a time before the second world war, when a famous drum maker took in the daughter of a dead friend, raised her and groomed her to be a dancer.
The second story is about a young lady named Pan, who is disappointed by her love life—or the lack of it. Sick and tired of sitting home alone, eating noodles and being ignored by the men that she wants, Pan decides to attract a mate by less traditional means than those she normally favours, such as hanging around in bars and clubs, or rubbing her behind up against men she encounters on the boat, while on the way home from work. These methods just don’t seem to be working for the girl so, on the recommendation of a former neighbour, she uses a mysterious liquid to enchant the men she desires and get them into her bed. It works very well for her and she is soon working up a sweat with anyone she wants to, but, as is usually the case, there is a price to pay for messing with magic.
The third story is probably the best of the three and is actually quite clever. It is about a cop investigating the death of a young woman found hanging from a girder in a new building on a construction site. All the signs indicate she has been murdered, but Detective Nop’s superior officer is convinced the girl is a suicide and as far as he is concerned the case is closed. The pathology report backs up Nop’s theory of murder, so with a little help from the friendly pathologist he carries on his investigation and finds out a lot about the dead girl. Maybe it would have been better for him though if he had just left it alone, then perhaps the ghosts would have left him alone.
The wraparound story is set in a bar where three young girls sit around a table and swap the three aforementioned ghost stories. Each girl looks a lot like the leading lady from her own story as well, so perhaps what happens at the end is not so surprising. The unusual thing about the wraparound story is how it has been worked in. The viewer is not even aware of it until after the first story finishes and is suddenly shown the three girls in the bar. Basically, it’s just a very flimsy way to hold together three stories that have little in common except their ghosts.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Bangkok Haunted was a disappointment to me. It wasn’t unbearable to watch, but there are many better films available. Having said that, some of the special effects are very good and I did feel a few cold shivers creeping down my spine on more than one occasion. I also felt pretty nauseous when one of the characters in the second story succumbed to a fatal fit of vomiting. In fact, it has probably put me off pea soup for the rest of my life. The story with most gory is the third one. It contains some pretty gruesome close-ups of the cadavers on the post-mortem table (yuk!). So if blood and guts and vomiting are likely to turn your stomach, you should probably give this one a miss, you won’t be missing much anyway. The Korean Horror movie, A Tale of Two Sisters, is a much better option . It won the Award for Best Picture at the 2004 Fantasporto Movie Festival and is superior to Bangkok Haunted in every way.