A krasue is a female flesh-eating spirit in Southeast Asian culture, a half-human ghost whose story has been told countless times in movies and popular media. During the daytime, the krasue lives like any ordinary woman, even having a job, like the teacher in Yuthlert Sippapak’s Ghost of Valentine (2006). But at night she turns evil: her head detaches from her body and floats around looking for flesh and blood to consume. Now the krasue has been reinterpreted again, from the creation of director Sittisiri Mongkolsiri and writer Chookiat Sakveerakul (himself the acclaimed director of 13 Beloved and Love of Siam). This time she is a more sensitive monster, whose fate is explained through the interplay of love and friendship.
Around the time of the Second World War, villagers in a remote region of Thailand live in fear of a krasue who devours their cattle every night. At first, they protect themselves by removing any attractions that might lure the ghost into their homes. But when a new-born baby is kidnapped and a girl accidentally becomes a ghost, they decide to take action. A group of outsiders, declaring themselves to be krasue hunters, also arrive in the village to undertake their own crusade. But the krasue this time is a teenage girl, Sai, who has a strong bond with her friends and parents, and so the game of pursuit and escape, monster and human, neighbours and outsiders, is also a battle between love and a curse.
All the important elements of the legend are here – the inheritance of the curse, the transformation, and the hunt. But there are also new elements, including the possibility of a medicine that might cure the krasue’s “sickness.” Screenwriter Sakveerakul has succeeded in developing the script in a unique way, giving the ghost a believable origin story. Here she is not just a hungry ghost on the search for fresh meat, but also the victim of male love and revenge. While some men are strongly dedicated to their women, others deceive and commit in opposite directions. No matter how a love triangle ends, both sexes suffer.
Given these rules of the game, director Sittisiri has carefully crafted this tale of ghost hunting with compassion. Throughout the movie, the theme is developed with delicacy – the love between boys and girls, fathers and daughters, and friends. Even the evil monster has a heart, although she articulates her emotions in a terrifying direction. And if there is a female monster, why there should not be a male one too? All in all, this is a high quality story of ghosts among humans, finding a new approach to a time-honoured horror story. Think of it, perhaps, as Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands meeting James Cameron’s Titanic.