Friday, July 12, 2019

Krasue: Inhuman Kiss – review

Director: Sitisiri Mongkolsiri

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

The krasue is not a stranger to these pages. The Thai vampiric creature, described as a floating head with entrails and heart dangling beneath, makes an entry in Bane’s Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology under the entry phii krasue but whilst the (generally depicted as) female entity may have made it there the male krahang did not. This film features this other entity too and Wikipedia describes it as a type of ghost said to haunt the same areas as the krasue. This film strengthens their connection (though uses antagonism).

The film is luscious to look at and thus it is little surprising that it has made its way onto Western streaming services. If you are going to give this a look, however, you’ll need to note that whilst there is some gore, in the main it is a romance – indeed a tragedy at its heart.

the kids
The film is set some time in the 1940s in rural Thailand, with a background of war being waged in Bangkok. However, it starts some years before with a group of children; Sai (played young by Phakwan Chaowalit and older by Phantira Pipityakorn), Ting (played young by Punnarat Lasutthi and older by Darina Boonchu), Jerd (played young by Ittipat Lekuthaiwan and older by Sapol Assawamunkong) and Noi (played young by Pankorn Chantasorn and older by Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang). They walk through a field and into the forest, by which time it is getting dark, stopping when they reach a derelict house.

behind Sai
The rambunctious Jerd tells them that there is a chest in the house that holds Nual’s spirit (Sasithorn Panichnok) and those that come at night can never leave. He then laughs heartily and points out it is just a story. Ting is *it* in a game of hide and seek. Sai and Noi move off together and then she suggests they hide inside the house. He is reluctant but she gives him a protection amulet her father gave her and they go in. She gets him to hide in one place and she goes to another room that has a large crate… it is empty but we see a krasue materialise behind Sai…

Phantira Pipityakorn as Sai
Cutting to the film's primary timeframe, Sai bolts awake from her dream. There is a spot of blood on the bedclothes, which she cleans before heading to the hospital. Jerd spots her and walks with her. Due to the fighting, the school is closed and he asks her to forget the hospital and go to the fields with him but she refuses. She discovers that the doctor and nurse she helps have had to go to the city and her presence proves useful when a woman brings in her son (with glass in his knee). As Sai cleans it the mother says about a krasue attacking a neighbour’s chickens and suggests she keeps her windows and doors locked and not to leave laundry out (krasue wipe their mouths on laundry apparently).

Sapol Assawamunkong as Jerd
We discover that Sai misses Noi (the film telling us later that his family moved to Bangkok) and Ting is now a married mother to a baby. Jerd is clearly attracted to Sai. That night Sai dreams of the house again, awakens and finds the bed is very bloodied. She also finds that she has a strange injury or inflammation to her chest and wears clothing to hide it. That day she asks Jerd to go to the house with her. They see movement in the forest, they hide and a figure appears. Sai recognises him as Noi. After they greet each other they discover he is with a group of armed men.

Tad with krasue head
The men are krasue hunters (they do not know about the latest reported sightings, Noi has told them about the old legend from the village so that he could get home with them as his parents have been killed in Bangkok in the fighting). Of course, there is a krasue and we get a story of them eating through livestock, and a mother krasue being able to spit in liquid and, should a female drink it, turn the drinker into a krasue – unless the imbiber is male and then he will be painfully poisoned. The men carry desiccated heads that their leader, Tad (Surasak Wongthai), claims to be krasue they have killed.

Noi and krasue Sai
So, it won’t come as a shock to discover that Sai is the krasue. Why it has only started to manifest isn’t clear. My first reaction is that it is a puberty thing (hence the blood on the sheet at the beginning) but that also corresponded with the off-screen chicken attacks and she then manages to stain the sheets with large amounts of blood that would seem to be residue of feeding. We see later that Nual’s spirit or essence seemed to enter her when she was a child. Noi eventually finds the truth and tries to help her, Jerd is jealous of their closeness and has also joined the hunters.

a krahang
Other lore we get is that the way to destroy a krasue is to crush their heart (the body being made inhabitable through injury also seems to be a way). However, the head section is also susceptible to injury and we see guns used extensively. There is an indication that becoming a krasue is a karmic punishment for the souls of those who were once black magicians in other lives. The interesting bit was the idea of the krahang being a male creature (in full form sort of a manbat, with fangs and bird like feet) whose ancestor was once married to the first krasue. When she fell in love with a human and ran away, he hunted her down and now krahang are compelled to seek and kill krasue. Other lore I picked up on was the spittle from a kiss does not permanently poison a man but he becomes pained as she detaches from her body, the entrails are controllable and can be used as appendages and there is a herb that will prevent transformation (and grows as a luminescent plant).

head detaching
The film itself looked beautiful – the effects worked and there was some genuinely pleasing cinematography. The pace, however, was not so good. The film could do with a good 30 minutes shaving off it and did drag in places – whilst the filmmakers used the extra length to build empathy, I think, the three young leads did enough to do that with their acting skills anyway and the extra length was unneeded. I personally would have liked more concentration on the creature/horror side… the tragic love story less so. However this was worthwhile and a nice addition to the small cannon of krasue films. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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