Death Whisperer

European Premiere | In Competition

 

The Death Whisperer story first became a cultural phenomenon in 2015, when it was posted on a forum on Thailand’s popular web-board pantip.com. It received over 2,000 comments and was forwarded 130,000 times. Two years later, a writer calling himself Krittanon turned the story into a novel, claiming that it was a true story that had happened to his mother’s family when she was a teenager in Kanchanaburi. Director Taweewat Wantha made it into a film in 2023.

A village in the central region of Thailand witnesses several strange incidents where young women suddenly become sick without a clear cause and then die. A family falls victim to a similar occurrence that happens to one of their daughters and causes their eldest son, Yak, who is a soldier, to come back home. With a strong mind, Yak (Nadech Kugimiya) does not believe in the ghostly tale and resolves to do everything he can to prove his theory. At the end, Yak finds the real truth and challenges the ghost without fear.

Despite its familiar scenario, Death Whisperer is a horror film that features several new kinds of cinematic construction. Firstly, instead of focusing on gory images and graphic violence, the director constructs a chilling atmosphere through the use of mise-en-scene and sound design. The most outstanding instance can be attributed to the use of sound, as an eerie, high-pitched shriek of horror, “Tee Yod”, echoes whenever the ghost arrives.

The extreme long shot of the ghost in black gives us goosebumps. Furthermore, Death Whisperer delivers its story in an untraditional manner by moving the plot along in fastpaced rhythms. Many scenes – especially the scene where Yak fights back against the ghost – move forward like an action scene in such a way that the film can be considered as an action-horror instead. A sequence in which Yak drives a pick-up to bring his sister and the family to see a doctor and a team of exorcists makes us feel like we are riding a rollercoaster through a haunted jungle.

We cannot deny that – despite the casting of attractive actors and actresses whom audiences have felt do not represent real rural people – the cast do well in delivering their performances. Many of them are taking on acting roles for the first time. Among the more experienced performers, some of them do very well in set-piece scenes, especially Kugimiya in the sequence in which Yak fights the ghost in a field of shoulder-level grass.

He conveys well the tension of having to guess where the ghost will appear next, as well as his subconscious ability to perceive the difference between the ghost and reality.

All in all, this is one of the best Thai horrors that has been released in the last couple of years, and it is no surprise that it climbed to second place in the box office chart, grossing more than €12.7 million. As a result, a sequel will be underway by the time the film screens in Italy and is expected to be released at the end of 2024.

Anchalee Chaiworaporn
Film director: Taweewat WANTHA
Year: 2023
Running time: 121'
Country: Thailand
26/04 - 11:40 PM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
26-04-2024 23:40 27-04-2024 1:41Europe/Rome Death Whisperer Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine cec@cecudine.org
Online in Italy until the end of the Festival

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