‘P’ (the Thai word for ghost) is the tragic story of Dau, a young Khmer teenager from the remote Thai jungle. In search of money for her grandmother’s medicine, Dau travels to Bangkok. There she meets the tough and sexy Pookie who takes Dau under her wing and shows her the ins and outs of prostituting herself at the “P” go-go club. The only thing that the shy, naïve Dau has going for her is that her grandmother was a witch who taught her ancient magic. Dau uses her powers to 1) make herself irresistible to the sleazy foreign Johns who patron the bar and 2) seriously fuck up those who wronged her; namely the catty older girls and the sleazy foreign Johns. Dau’s grandmother laid out 3 very specific rules that you absolutely, positively, must obey when using the magic. And guess what? Dau ignores the rules completely unleashes an evil ghost that kills a bunch of people. The supreme rule of horror movies: always obey the rules. Silly village girl.
The best part of this film was the setting. Writer/Director Paul Spurrier effectively gets you into the inner workings of the sex bars of Thailand; how the system works, where the cash goes, the game the girls run on the Johns, and how the girls feel and deal with their situations. The girls deal with their situation pretty lightly and ‘P’ glosses over a lot of their hardships. But there is a powerful, destructive evil that lurks under the surface. Using a ghost story as a metaphor for the internal personal corruption that occurs in the sex industry was inspired.
While most of the performances were average the relationship between Pookie and Dau was really well done. Suangporn Jaturaphut, a 17-year-old from the Bangkok slums, took an extremely difficult debut role in Dau. For this she gets an A for effort but a B for overall performance. It’s good but not amazing. There is one brutal scene where Dau’s first client, played by director Spurrier, takes her virginity. It is difficult to watch but beautifully played on all accounts. Opal was great as Pookie. For added fun there are a bunch of other half naked Asian hotties that danced around be bar a lot (if that’s your thing). The lighting was excellent and some of the imagery was pretty sweet. The external shots of Bangkok also look great.
This movie could have been better. The problem with ‘P’ is that a lot of the film has an Asian TV melodrama feel to it; mainly due to the unimaginative camera angles, artificial looking sets and obvious dialogue. The Thai sex industry is a filthy, dirty world and it comes across as way too clean. You can pretty much place a camera anywhere on the streets of Bangkok and it’s gonna look atmospheric, authentic and gritty. The use of sets instead of locations was a missed opportunity and the camera shies away from showing us anything truly ugly. This takes a lot away from the tension of ’P’. In this film, watching an underage girl dancing in a Bangkok sex bar somehow feels safe. The gore isn’t great and the CGI isn’t anything to get excited about either. Finally, at the end of the day, this movie just plain isn’t scary. If you’re looking for some insight into the Thai sex industry or just want to see sexy Asian babes it’s okay, but any serious horror fan should give this film a pass.