Nang Nak (1999)
By: Devon B. on April 2, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Ocean Shores (Hong Kong) All Regions, NTSC. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). Thai DD 2.0. 101 minutes
The Movie
Director: Nonzee Nimibutr
Starring: Indhira Jaroenpura, Winai Kraibutr
Screenplay: Wisit Sasanatieng
Music: Pakkawat Vaiyavit
Country: Thailand
You know how you can spot a long term Asian film/DVD aficionado? Say 'Imbedded subs!' to 'em, and see if they shudder. I went insane with Asian DVDs when I first got a player because of the removable, LEGIBLE subs. They didn't fall off the matte or get cropped off. They could still have freaky weird translations, but at least I was no longer missing half the movie because I couldn't tell what the hell was being said. No more hunkering half a millimetre from my 25 centimetre tele trying in vain to make out the little squiggles that were supposedly words. Nang Nak is one of those annoying DVDs that still had imbedded subs, but at least they remain legible.

Nang Nak got rave reviews from lots of people, but I'm not sure why. That guy who seems to star in every Thai horror movie plays Mak, this guy who has to leave his wife Nak to go to war. Mak and Nak love each other lots, and when she dies while he's away, her spirit refuses to leave him. He comes home and goes about his normal business, not realizing he's living with a ghostie. A friend eventually tries to warn him, and ends up dead for that transgression.

Despite the ghost element, this isn't much of a horror movie. It takes Nak a long time, like 40 minutes, to do anything, so most of the movie is a drama. She only takes out a few people before the climax, and she later claims that she didn't kill those people anyway.

Nak doesn't make for a scary menace, and I'm not really sure why the village doesn't just leave the rhyming named couple together. I guess it's cultural, but I don't see why they had to separate. I'm also not sure why their relationship is so special. The movie should've focused more on the relationship prior to Mak's leaving, because until the finale, Nak's devotion and love don't seem overwhelming at all. She also isn't as caring as is implied, because she kills people (well, she says she didn't do it, but I don't believe her) for trying to help her husband out. Even though that meant separating him from her, they were helping the person she loved. She doesn't seem very nice, and appears to be the same person as she was before she croaked it, so it's hard to believe she's so loveable.

Though it's not scary, there is some unintentional humour to be had. Nak has a premonition that Mak's not doing well because a tarantula knocks its body against a wall. There's a nightmare sequence where a guy decomposes, and about midway through looks like a Splitting Image doll. Mak is advised to look between his legs to see the truth about his situation. The funniest moment comes from a monk's startled reaction to hearing that Nak would be home soon, which was made even sillier because he already knew she was coming.

The director did go on to contribute an interesting segment in the anthology simply called Three. His segment is far more visually compelling and competent than anything in Nang Nak.
Nang Nak is presented letterboxed at about 1.66:1. The print starts out dark and murky, but then cleans up, only to go dark again and remain that way. Specks and scratches abound, and the print has fluctuating quality levels, but it's better than the other Thai movies I've seen.
The film is in Thai with imbedded Chinese and English subs. The subs are very legible, but also a bit high on the matte. I hated the audio, but, truth be told, I find the Thai language very abrasive to the ears. At least there's no one as bad as the female lead in Ong Bak.
Extra Features
The DVD comes in a black keep case which houses a sleeve featuring artwork from the film and some writing. Also known as a cover.
The Verdict
Nang Nak is a very slow Thai love drama. It seemed to endlessly drag on even in fast-forward, so again, I really have no idea why it got such acclaim. People are idiots.
Movie Score
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