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'The Medium' director says film is ‘new type of horror’

“The Medium” director Banjong Pisanthanakun (Showbox)
“The Medium” director Banjong Pisanthanakun (Showbox)

The highly anticipated upcoming film “The Medium,” is a new type of horror movie, says director Banjong Pisanthanakun.

“It is a new type. The new type of horror film is different because it makes people feel fear gradually,” the Thai filmmaker told reporters during an interview via Zoom on Thursday.

Banjong explained that this was possible due to the original script which was written by Korean director Na Hong-jin.

“As a director making horror films, I think it is becoming more difficult to create scary movies. I, myself, have not felt scared while watching horror films for a while. But it was different when I watched Na Hong-jin’s film,” Banjong said.

Na has created multiple South Korean hit thrillers such as “The Wailing,” also known as “Goksung.” Last September, Banjong teamed up with Na to make “The Medium,” a horror film set in rural Thailand. Na was responsible for the original script and production of the new film.

“At first I could not believe that I got to work with director Na Hong-jin. As a fan, I could not believe that this was actually happening and was nervous,” he said. “After we began working together I had some pressure because I had to work with a genius director who I am a big fan of and also Na Hong-jin could not come to Thailand due to COVID-19. I had to make sure I understood Na’s intentions about the movie.”

In the film, a documentary team follows Nim (played by Sawanee Utoomma), a shaman living in a mountain village in Thailand. After Nim’s sister Noi (played by Sirani Yankittikan) refused to become the designated shaman years ago, she succeeded in the role instead. One day, Nim finds out that her niece Mink (played by Narilya Gulmongkolpech) develops some strange symptoms and suspects that it might be a sign that she is the next chosen shaman.

Banjong added that “The Medium” is special because it also is thought-provoking.

“Director Na and I agreed to make a movie that does not only scares people but make the audiences look back at what they are believing in,” he said.

During the interview, Banjong also mentioned that he tried to localize Na’s original script.

“Through the research process, I found out that Korean and Thai shamanism have a lot in common. I could keep the main storyline of the original script and localized it to fit Thailand’s situation,” he said.

The Thai director also talked about choosing a humbler route in the casting process.

“When casting, we made sure not to pick actors that are widely known. But they still had to be professionals since it is not easy to perform this script. So, director Na Hong-jin and I agree to pick theater actors that are not famous,” he said. “After we selected the actors, we held workshops with the actors and discussed how we are going to make the movie realistic.”

“The Medium” will hit local theaters on July 14 as originally scheduled despite the fourth wave of COVID-19 hitting Korea, according to film distributor Showbox.

By Song Seung-hyun (