Buppha Rahtree (2003)

DVD Cover (Golden Network Asia Limited)
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Overall Rating 66%
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Ranked #6,677
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Laila Boonyasak
Laila Boonyasak
Krit Sripoomseth
Krit Sripoomseth
Chompunoot Piyapane
Chompunoot Piyapane
Sirisin Siripornsmathikul
Sirisin Siripornsmathikul
Ampon Rattanawong
Ampon Rattanawong
Review by Chad
Added: February 16, 2007
Now this is a rarity: I'm reviewing an Asian movie that hasn't been remade by Hollywood, nor has it been scheduled for the remake treatment down the road. I know, it's shocking, isn't it? To be honest, I doubt that Hollywood would even touch something like this, considering that it's far from what we here in the States are accustomed to. Where else can you find a movie that blends drama, slapstick comedy, and horror into a single release while still being an effective and enjoyable film?

It begins with the drama side of things, and we meet up with a loner girl by the name of Buppah Rahtree (Laila Boonyasak). Rahtree is a medical student who is extremely gifted, but she wants nothing to do with anyone around her - not even the rich, handsome guy with the fancy car that has been pursuing her. This situation poses itself as a personal challenge to Akekapol Damrongsap (Krit Sripoomseth), a man who sets out to break down this woman's defenses and make her love him. He eventually succeeds, and actually, he's a little too successful as Rahtree winds up pregnant. Not wanting to throw his life down the toilet with an unwanted child, he convinces Rahtree to have an abortion, and as if that wasn't bad enough, he then makes a revelation to her: he doesn't really love her, and this whole relationship was the result of a bet with one of his college buddies. He tells her this just before leaving for England in order to further his studies, and the heartbroken Rahtree commits suicide.

This is where the movie completely shifts gears. Up until this point in the film, it's all been played out in a serious, straight-forward manner without the slightest hint of humor, but over the course of a single scene, it transforms into a full-fledged comedy. Rahtree's ghost is now haunting the apartment where she once lived, and the landlady sets out to cleanse this building of her spirit by hiring various witch-doctors, priests, and Buddhist monks to do the job. None of them are successful - in fact, they can't even manage to remove Rahtree's rotting corpse from her room - and when this vengeful spirit scares away all of the other tenants, this landlady breaks out the "big guns" in a final act of desperation.

I realize that, even though I mentioned it was done in a comedic style, that second act doesn't exactly sound like a laugh-a-minute affair and that is because the actual subject matter isn't what's funny here: the laughs come as a result of how it's done. Director Yuthlert Sippapak has taken all of the tired, clichéd elements from the Asian haunted house / ghostly little girl films, thrown in some Exorcist-rejects to mix things up, and - in the infamous words of Spinal Tap - turned the volume up to eleven. The stuff you'll see here is so over-the-top that you just can't help laughing, and the numerous nods to the aforementioned The Exorcist certainly didn't hurt when done in this fashion.

Then, as quickly as it came, the comedy vanishes and we're left with a horror film to wrap up the final act of the film. I wasn't really expecting this to work out very well considering the fact that this ghost has been the basis of about an hours worth of jokes, but surprisingly enough, it turned out to be fairly effective. Granted, it's not exactly a horror film that will cause you to sleep with the lights on, but it definitely turned out to be better than I expected and provided some fairly good scares coupled with a well-written ending.

If you have a region-free DVD player (what self-respecting movie fan doesn't these days?) and want to see a new take on the traditional Asian ghost story, give this one a viewing. 7/10.
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