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P 2005
Description: Whilst growing up in rural Thailand, a young orphan woman is taught the methods of magic by her grandmother. But when grandmother falls sick, Dau is lured to Bangkok to search work so that she can purchase medicine. She finds herself working in a go-go bar, and her adventure from naiveté to maturity is swift. She uses the magical skills her grandmother taught her to her advantage, but in doing so makes opponents within the bar. As her magic gets darker, and the consequences increasingly horrific, she gradually loses control, and something evil takes over.
Released: 03 Feb 2006 Director: Paul Spurrier Writers: Preeyaporn Chareonbutra (translation), Paul Spurrier (screenplay), Paul Spurrier (story) Actors: Suangporn Jaturaphut, Dean Barrett, Shaun Delaney, John Kathrein Genres: Drama, Horror
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P Reviews:

Showgirls meets Hammer Horror? There would be many methods to dismiss this British Thai movie, set in a seedy Bangkok go-go bar, and whose heroine turns into a nasty flesh-eating monster. Mainstream it's not, but for lovers of trashy independents it offers something of a curious mix that is almost a collector's item.(The game of the movie translates apparently as 'Ghost'; as a pun to fun-loving Thai viewers, P-Bar sounds like the Thai word for 'loony'.) Aaw is a great pubescent woman in rural Thailand, doing her greatest to look after ailing grandmom. Granny is a white witch and passes on her magic to Aaw just in situation it ever comes in handy. The rural photography is beautiful, especially when we consider the movie was made on a budget of £180,000. The familiar tale of young woman hoodwinked into moving to the large town to help her elderly relative is part of Thailand's cultural malaise. She gets roped into prostitution of course, and it isn't long before she begins using the 'special powers' Grandma taught her.Up to this mission there is no serious recommendation of any horror elements. Ordinary Thai folks tend to trust in magic as a day to day fact, even if they are devout Buddhists, and all we have seen is a pastoral tale, embellished with well-researched superstition and embroidered with lingering feature of initiation into the girlie bar trade.Director Paul Spurrier spent five years working on the storyline to ensure that the seemingly trite features were authentic - research that apparently included not only looking into magic traditions but plenty of time interviewing sex workers to understand how they operate (he even cameos in the movie as a bar owner). Some of the tales he said me after the film's Edinburgh Movie Festival UK Premiere were both sad in their simplicity and amusing in their unexpectedness. A woman had said him how her clients had increased from 4 in a month to 30 the next month after she had gone back home to consult the shamen. The current witchdoctor in the movie was based on a hero he met in N.E. Thailand; after answering many, many questions, the witchdoctor grabbed Paul's arm, pulling him ominously into the jungle, saying, "I have done something for you, actually you gotta do something for me!" As the barefooted movie director stumbled to hold up, the gravely stones underneath biting into his feet, the shamen looked up in surprised glee - "I everytime wanted to know that! I had been said that Westerners' feet are soft, and harm when they walk barefoot in the forest! Actually I know!" At one mission in the making of the film, the director made himself unpopular with the local madam after asking one of the women (who was about to go on a recruiting expedition) why she was happily misleading folks in the method that she, years earlier, had been misled. Some critics have dwelt on the morality of the film, telling it is both exploitative and lukewarm in its condemnation. While that might be true, the madam answered, "You only hear from women who think they've been tricked. You don't hear from the hundreds of women who search rich western husbands working here and go on abroad to marry. I don't hear them complaining." Then there was the go-go woman who asked for a copy of the film "to send back home to mom, as I don't have any great pictures to present her where I work." Spurrier was ambivalent when questioned. He thought it was sad that women were drawn into such a life, but that it was a fact of life for many, just like the magic traditions. It is also a backdrop for the storyline rather than a moral axe to grind, whether in protest or condoning.The strange part is the sudden shift of category into horror. There is no extensive test of CGIs - it tries, if anything, to remain real to the country's tradition (Thailand has about ten fresh ghost storyline movies a year). It's simplicity recalls not only many another Asian attempts at horror but also early British movies where we know the blood is not very true but select to overlook such facts. That the abrupt change works quite well is a credit to the movie, reminding us more of the masterly movie Audition than tell the overladen From Dusk Till Dawn. Something evil has been growing inside of Aaw, because she has ignored the guidelines her grandmother taught her and she is becoming a puppet of the black magic she uses too readily. The transition from nightmares and drug-induced paranoia to the manifestation of evil is understated. Just as the sex-trade is accompanied by typical Thai modesty (no bare bosoms), the horror is shocking but not too shocking, almost as if it is meant to be 'entertaining' rather than genuinely upsetting.The shortfalls are the derivative storyline lines, the overlong features of how to work in a go-go bar (especially when all the girls look and sound almost identical) and the fact that this Thai-style, British-made film is not well aimed at any easy identifiable western store (other, perhaps, than DVD). The light-hearted humour (girls exchanging insulting comments about a customer in Thai whilst giving the unsuspecting customer adoring glances and tones, or the giggly exchanges of how to butter-up a Westerner), and the fact that it is the first Thai horror movie made by a British director, may endear it to all lovers of light-hearted gore. Most movies seek either nice artistic acclaim or the hugest profits possible; Spurrick may simply be someone who wants to earn a living as a filmmaker in Thailand. P won't create him a fortune, but it might create him enough to fund the next episode in what should even become a cult niche.


For the distributor to hype this movie as 'Thai lesbians fighting monsters' was just plain stupid. They may think that it will receive the guys to come see it. But those just looking for T & A will be disappointed. And what about the female audience? Can't girls like horror movies too?The central relationship between the two women in this movie is very sensitively portrayed and is a large part of what elevates the movie above being just a piece of exploitation.What was portrayed in the movie was a deep friendship, a synergy, and an affection. It was simple to see that in that type of zone you might begin to lose respect for boys and build close connections with another women, and that such a relationship might even become physical. For me this was a very touching aspect to the film, and it really did have something to tell about close female relationships. It was rare to see a movie directed by a boy that should now deal with this topics without thinking that having a close female relationship means your a dyke, and that lesbianism is something that exists only on porn videos for male masturbatory fantasies.I'm not a lesbian. I went to see it with my boyfriend, and he was virtually salivating at the main actress, pervert that he is!And surely that tells something.This movie succeeds in covering a topics where 'Showgirls' fully fails. And it seems to me that one of the main reasons is that this movie is true and sexy not just explicit. Sexy can be interesting for 90 minutes. Even boys receive bored with just the fully explicit. This movie is about true women with true lives working in an exotic club. It's not just an excuse for nudity and explicit sex.And as for the monsters, well it seemed to me that this movie was really about the creature within - about the evil inside all of us - rather than about unique result monsters.So, yes, don't see this movie if you wish to just see CG monsters.As the previous critic said, if you're looking for an ADULT film, don't go see this. If you're looking for a sexy, sensitive, intelligent, and sometimes truly scary movie that your girlfriend will also enjoy, I would strongly suggest it.


*** first & last paragraphs are without spoilers ***At first sight the story's your cute primary demon possession thing (P is the transliteration of the Thai word for Ghost). What made the movie stand out however was the setting. The entire thing is seen from the perspective of an innocent woman forced to leave the countryside to look for cash in Bangkok, where she loses touch with her past as she gets caught up in the Thai sex industry - and goes downhill (some have recommended a metaphor for drugs, but I think there are different paths leading downhill in the Thai sex industry). She refuses to agree her fate however, but her energy flows to her dark side, which later darkens just a deeper shade of red...More specific (***massive spoilers down here*** - for a summary go to the final paragraph) :The opening scenes in rural Thailand where Aaw grows up in all innocence learning witchcraft from her grandmother are really full of supernatural promise in the nature of the zone itself. It also sets the main hero well - she's considered a freak by her peers, but fails to really rise above it, which makes her vulnerable to herself - shown by the fact that she's mad when pushed in the mud, after which a demon tries to grab her in the water; or that, when older, she scares three tiny children spying on her (nicely mirroring what's about to follow). In order to pay for her sick grandmother, she has to transport to Bangkok before she manages to finished her witchcraft skills. In another words, the classic - all power, but no powerful enough will yet.The action moves to the P Bar in Bangkok, where some of the most painful scenes take place, as Aaw gradually loses her old self - she is given a fresh name, Dau; she loses her virginity. Awkward to see, where Paul Spurrier plays the virgin loving sex industry white (very convincingly). The stage is brought so tenderly and subdued that it is all the more hurting. Very well done too (helped by the soundtrack) is the first floor present in the bar, which Spurrier manages to movie in an entirely non-erotic way, but instead making the dancing poles look like a jail in which the girls are meat. In fact, the entire movie at this mission should well be a social commentary thing with some very nice cinematography.Things for Dau then take a turn for the worse as she begins to test her magic on whoever hurts her, starting with Spurrier who gets punishment in a very fitting way. Next however is her rival at the club. Her "accident" is really great. Some nice gore though very tiny is shown. But Dau fails to respect three sacred guidelines to obey when one uses black magic, thus opening her heart to... evil! - thereby gradually losing her final bit of self. The fact that her first error occurs when she acknowledges her feelings for her roommate Pookie (also a very nice actress), is rather dubious I think.Then the movie loses a bit of the atmosphere that set it out from your usual ghost flick, as Dau turns into a straight vampire (actually a phii borb - a classic organ-eating Thai ghost) and goes butchering white sex tourists and whoever stands in her method - some great gore at times, and organ-diving might become a national sport. The beginning of it, where it's still unclear whether it's true or not, is well done, but towards the end, while the movie never loses momentum, the storyline seems a bit lost. Especially the final solution reminded me of the original Exorcist, i.e. the exorcist dies himself, and the true salvation is brought by someone letting the demon go inside and then killing herself.The end is rather depressing - she's alive, but without demon all her rebellion vs her case is gone and the final stage shows her doing a genuinely erotic but soulless floor present - Aaw gone forever and Dau to live the miserable life of meat for sale. What I found a bit disturbing is (though this certainly couldn't have been Spurrier's intention) that the entire movie can be seen as "try to resist the fate the Thai sex industry has installed for you just causes a true mess, so you'd better hold that demon calm and agree your karma and swing around that pole". It depends on whether you look at the Barb possession as being Aaw's rebellion or rather her path downhill.*** End of spoilers ***But don't be mistaken, this is a very nice movie (despite being maybe a bit less imaginative towards the end) with some exquisite acting by unknown actors. Especially the lead, Suangporn Jaturaphut (in her first role!) is simply a revelation. It's definitely worth your theater visit, with its well-told straightforward storyline and pretty photos - and if that's not enough, just go to check out Suangporn.



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