Sunday, September 16, 2018

Oh My Ghost! 2 – review

Director: Poj Arnon

Release Date: 2011

Contains spoilers

Please pay attention as this will get confusing. The Thai film, Oh My Ghost! 2 is also called Hor taew tak 3. Hor taew tak (the first film) was released in 2007 and called Haunting Me in the English speaking markets. The sequel Hor taew tak 2 was released in 2009 and entitled Oh My Ghost for the English-speaking market, so this volume is the third in the series. There is a fourth film (2012) Hor taew tak 4/Oh My Ghost 3. To make things more confusing there is a further film (from 2013) entitled Oh My Ghost that, from what I can tell, features one of the stars of the series as a different character.

Netflix UK has Hor taew tak 2-4 (and the later Oh My Ghost) available to watch and I realised that this volume has a vampire element. I watched Hor taew tak 2 (to try and get au fait with the series) and then this – it was still confusing (actually more so than film 2) as the vampire (and werewolf) elements seemed almost random.

The series itself is based in the katoey world. In Thailand katoey originally referred to an intersex individual but in its modern usage it might refer to a transgender woman or an effeminate gay man – this film is set around the transgender aspect but stretched out to the drag scene. Ru Paul has suggested that “Transgender people take identity very seriously – their identity is who they are”, quite rightly, whereas “Drag is really making fun of identity”. The films play entirely for comedy, and perhaps runs a drag aspect for that effect. As it starts the primary characters of Mod Dam (Ekkachai Srivichai), Cartoon (Yingsak Chonglertjetsadawong) and Taew (Jaturong Mokjok), along with Taew’s son Koy (Wiradit Srimalai) and a toilet, arrive at new lodgings.

Pharanyu Rojanawuthitham as Thaeng
They have the toilet because it was the place where Pancake (Kohtee Aramboy) was killed in the first film and now her spirit is tied to it. She was summoned in the second film to help them deal with a troublesome ghost. As they are shown through the grounds Taew spots a young athletic man by a pool, but he vanishes. Later Pancake comes across him swimming. He is Thaeng Thong (Pharanyu Rojanawuthitham) a ghost and the primary focus of the film (be that in terms of romantic rivalry between pancake and the others, in terms of vampirism or the focal point for the villains).

turned vampire
One issue I had was that I didn’t actually work out, at any given point, what the villains were actually after in this film. The primary plot seemed to be that Waew Sawat (Apaporn Nakornsawan) was some kind of witch (I think) who had stolen her identity and, with the help of Suan Sawat (Kachapa Toncharoen), killed the witnesses including Thaeng Thong (bar one witness who has amnesia and also the woman who has summoned the ladies to solve the mystery). So, for a reason I didn’t overly get, the villains are after a “savage mole” they implanted in Thaeng Thong. When retrieved it turns him into a savage persona and that persona is a vampire – actually a corporeal bloodsucking vampire.

crosses and garlic
Pancake presumably has no issues with this because she’s a ghost and they become romantically entwined. There is a little lore offered as we move through the film. There is an intention to destroy the vampire by destroying his corpse using a stake to the heart (in other words he is a vampiric ghost, able to achieve corporeality but separate and yet connected to his dead body), there is some use of garlic and crosses (the latter as hair pieces but the film offering no real clue as to the effectiveness of either apotropaic), there is also new lore that a strawberry (a magic one, that is), held in the mouth, will prevent a vampire attack!

werewolves with the vampire
There is also a pack of werewolves (brought along because vampires and werewolves are enemies – according to the mispronounced movie Twingelight). The werewolves (bar a bit of a CGI shapeshift at one point) are buff young men with pointed ears, light cropped beards and upper and lower fangs (rather than the vampire’s upper fangs only). In fact, the vampire and werewolves both owe more to David DeCoteau’s films than anything else.

rocket dong
The comedy is madcap and based around verbal sparring – as well as the obligatory bitchiness there is quite a bit around mispronunciation with a twist that it is a Chinese attempt to speak Thai – and slapstick. There is also a sexual element to the comedy, which culminates in Pancake riding a rocket dong to defeat a warlock. It is the characters who carry this and the living and ghostly primary characters are amusing in their own way. However, I think a layer of the comedy went over my head as well, steeped as it was in a specific Thai subculture.

Kohtee Aramboy as Pancake
However, the plot that was the primary vehicle for delivering this comedy was bitty and not well constructed – in fact, having watched the previous movie, this really didn’t try very hard at all. The previous film actually went out of its way to build a thorough backstory for the ghostly shenanigans, this seemed more of a plot sketched on the back of a cigarette packet. The acting was mostly histrionic, but that is what was called for, though the character of Pancake works really well thanks to both the presence and comic timing of Kohtee Aramboy. Many are going to find this hard work due to the flimsy plot and histrionics. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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