the medium (film, 2021) ↑

the medium (film, 2021)

I'm glad I finally got around to watching The Medium by Banjong Pisanthanakun. It did not disappoint and has quickly become one of my favorite additions to the Asian horror canon. The film starts in a documentary style as we are introduced to Nim, a local shaman in rural Thailand. We learn about her role in the community and the ancient spiritual traditions she carries on. I felt the filmmakers put much thought and research into accurately portraying this cultural and religious perspective. This documentary framework gives way to a more conventional narrative as the focus shifts to Nim's family, including her sister's troubled daughter, Mink.

Things turn dark as it becomes clear Mink is grappling with possession by evil spirits rather than her family's deity, like her aunt. The subtle creepiness that had been slowly building finally bursts forth in genuinely disturbing and unsettling ways. Narilya Gulmongkolpech's performance as Mink is nothing short of unsettling. She portrayed the internal battle of a woman being pulled against her will into a disturbing spiritual role with such intensity and vulnerability.

the medium (film, 2021)

A major turning point arrives when the spirits fully take hold of Mink. What transpires is perhaps the film's most unnerving imagery as Mink commits violent acts while seemingly under complete demonic control. Witnessing her inhuman strength and the gruesome fallout pushed any lingering doubts aside - this was full-blown possession. Chilling sequences like this showed the movie unafraid to go to viscerally dark places.

I admire how The Medium uses folklore as a narrative springboard rather than a lazy storytelling crutch. Events aren't just random terror for the sake of scares. Cultural themes like generational duty, resisting fate, clashing beliefs, plus taboo canine practices all factor thematically. It gives weight and purpose to every unholy act rather than feeling like an empty shock value.

the medium (film, 2021)

Compared to similarly claustrophobic slow-burners set in isolated rural villages like The Wailing or Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, The Medium distinguishes itself with its layered portrait of spiritual possession informed by Thai folk beliefs. Where it could have resorted to typical jump scares and gore, it maintains an unsettling psychological edge through the immense talent of its actors coupled with creepy atmospherics. Most importantly, it doesn't pander to Western tastes but immerses audiences in its culturally authentic source material.

Overall, The Medium proved a haunting 2-hour experience I wouldn't forget. Banjong Pisanthanakun crafts a masterclass in building palpable dread through subtlety, leaving viewers on edge from start to unsettling finish. While not for the faint of heart, it rewards those willing to endure its darkest and most disturbing moments with a thought-provoking work of art sure to please fans of intelligent, culturally rich horror.