Not to be confused with Pee Mak – the other Thai horror-comedy about a lovelorn female spirit – Pee Nak is about a curse, a Naga and some very unfortunate monks. This third chapter continues with returning cast members and an overstretched plot (or lack thereof), and by the looks of it, should likely be its last.
Aod (Khunnaphat Phichetworawut) is a young gravedigger at Thamma Nakanimitr temple, and accidentally unearths an ancient gold anklet which he keeps. He soon starts to feel unwell and as scales start to appear on his skin, it becomes clear that he’s under a curse – likely from the mythical Naga from folklore in the region. But a human apparition afflicted with the same scaling appears and comes for Aod and his friends, wanting desperately to punish those that have stolen his anklet.
So my question really is, why doesn’t the group return this to the ghost? As with many other supernatural logic, it seems like a fitting decision to either pass a murderous ghost his anklet or to return it to the spot where it was found. To be fair, Aod does try to do so in the first encounter, but is quickly grabbed away by his monk friends for no apparent reason. Instead, the group travels across the region to various spots in a bid to find out the origins of the anklet. While this may make some sense to have a more complete closure, it may not be all that practical when you have a blood-thirsty ghost physically crippling your group? Maybe I missed something?
The group later uncovers that the ghost is actually that of Nak Kam – a monk who had an unsavoury nature. And as Aod travels from temple to temple, the spirit manages to maim, injure and even kill some in the group. Not that Aod and his friends didn’t know – his intent is really quite clear, given that he repeats the same line only about a hundred times throughout the film (“You have stolen my anklet. You must die!”. They eventually find a solution, but I have to say, it feels deeply unsatisfying.
Part of Pee Nak 3’s problem isn’t so much that it’s a problem but a complacency. During its height, Thai movie-making found its groove in both horror and comedy genres, and when someone decided to merge both, it birthed a new hit formula. But like an inexperienced surfer, riding an expired wave is only going to get you crashing into the waters, and Pee Nak 3 does this in unspectacular fashion.
Director Phontharis Chotkijsadarsopon (Mike) is really throwing small eventful scenes together rather than trying to have a cohesive journey in this hackneyed plot. One moment the group can be discovering the dead body of a manager, the next they are taking off to a temple as if nothing has happened. In another scene, a monk reveals that a statue the group has been carrying has been protecting them because of the Naga. Afterwards, the statue is never seen again. There are too many disconnects here, with revelations that have no payoff or impact later scenes. Tha main thrust seems to be about extending the group’s journey so that there’s more gags to fill the show.
These are mostly centred around the gay duo of Balloon (Witthawat Rattanboonbaramee) and First (Bhuripat Vejvongsatechawat), who has provided the comic relief (appropriately timed or not) since the first film. The two hams things up with the most stereotypical references that not only seem contrived, but possibly offensive by today’s measures. There’s only so much lustful antics and cartoon sound effects one can take.
The film wastes the fictional legend it’s created – a pity because there’s so much room there for rich scenes and true horror to emerge. While the titles have seen domestic commercial success previously, it’s only a matter of time before the locals catch on.
Uninspired and hammy, go for this only if you like cheese and slapstick and not much else.