The Medium (2021) – Banjong Pisanthanakun

Thailand delivers a moody, atmospheric character piece, shot in documentary fashion that explores spirituality, faith, belief, family and vengeance. Initially, the ‘documentary’ is supposed to be about shamnisim and focuses on Nim (Sawanee Utoomma), and how she serves as a vessel for a goddess that has selected females of her family for generations.

Through Nim, we are introduced to the rest of her family, older sister Noi (Sirani Yankittikan), who was supposed to be the shaman, but converted to Christianity to avoid it, her brother Manit (Yasaka Chaisorn) and niece, Mink (Narilya Gulmongkolpech). We learn of a dark family history and its many secrets, even as Mink starts exhibiting very strange behavior.

Noi is convinced that if Nim performs an acceptance ceremony for Mink, that she will be accepted as Bo Yan, the goddess who Nim serves and carries. Nim isn’t quite so sure, and is afraid that perhaps Mink is inhabited by something, or some things else.

Sure there is some of the usual found footage stuff that have become tropes in the film’s climax, even as things go sideways in ways you would never have expected, but there are a number of truly unnerving and creepy sequences, especially in the second half of the film as a ceremony that Nim has arranged draws closer.

Specifically there is tons of footage from night vision cameras set up around Noi’s home, and we see the possessed Mink’s nocturnal activities, and it is truly creepy. That speaks not only to the script but to Gulmongkolpech’s performance of Mink, she starts out as this vibrant young woman, who may drink and party too much, but quickly, and believably descends into this frightening being that strikes out at anyone, and does so in horrifying ways.

Clocking in at just over two hours, this film takes its time, starting with subtle changes (there’s one moment with a window reflection that is freaky only if you notice it), and character building, letting the film explore the culture and beliefs, and inviting the viewer into the story, buckling you in for it, and warns you to hold on, but you’re still not ready for the film’s climax, and if you truly get invested in the story, the gut punch epilogue resonates long after the film ends.

I always love to see how other parts of the world take on a subgenre like possession in horror films, because it can often give you a glimpse of the beliefs, and cultures that you may never get to see in person. And while sometimes what some find scary, others won’t, but The Possession is a truly creepy and frightening film (even if the climax plays with all those found footage tropes we hate like, ‘why are you hanging around with a camera when all this crap is going down? Fly you fools!’).

I dug it.

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