Kongkiat Komesiri directs Mario Maurer as an amnesiac in the horror thiller "Take Me Home"
While the chatter about his anticipated crime flick “Khun Phan”, an as yet-unreleased detective drama set in Thailand’s South has kept him in the news, director Kongkiat Komesiri has been pretty much out of the frame for the last three years.
His last film “Antapal” (“The Gangster” hit the screens in 2012, but in the meantime he’s ready with another film, not “Khun Phan”, but the horror movie “Suksan Wan Klab Baan” (“Take Me Home”). It opens in cinemas tomorrow, just in time for the Songkran holidays.
“It’s my first horror film,” says the director, while conceding that he’s not unfamiliar with the genre having written the scripts for such frighteners as Wisit Sasanatieng’s “Pen Choo Kab Phee” (“The Unseeable”) and been part of the “Ronin Team” of writers and directors who made the torture-horror “Long Khong” (“Art of the Devil”).
“I kept turning down offers to make a horror film simply because I didn’t have a good enough idea to do something interesting,” he says.
His inspiration was unknowingly sparked in 2010 when he travelled to a Swiss film festival with his 2009 opus “Cheun” (“Slice”) and a member of the audience asked him why Thai movies almost always show a scene of the characters are sitting around a dinner table at home.
“I replied that it was part of our social fabric to use our time at table to share lives and problems,” he recalls.
And thus the first seed of “Take Me Home” was planted.
“Take Me Home”, which is produced by North Star, focuses on Tan (Mario Maurer), a lonely man who wakes up in a hospital after sleeping for five years. Unable to remember anything other than people used to call him Tan, he eventually returns home with his twin sister Tabtim (TV actress Wannarote Sonthichai). She lives with her husband, architect Cheewin (Nopachai Jayanama), who didn’t even know that his wife had a twin, and their kids – two children from Cheewin’s previous marriage. The only person who seems happy to meet Tan is the maid Waew (Napapha Sukrit) who warns him to be careful about Shome (Duangjai Hiransri), a furious spirit who lives in the house.
Kongkiat wastes no time on the secret of Shome, instead letting Tan and the audience learn about the spirit together.
“I’m interested in perfection – perfect home, perfect life and perfect family. Tan leads viewers to explore the reality. A happy home is one where we accept each other’s imperfections otherwise our lives get caught up in a never-ending loop,” he says.
Hailed as one of the few directors to deliver a strong story structure, Kongkiat is also known for his affection for depicting life in the gloomy underbelly of society complete as well as for his unerring masculine approach. His solo debut “Chaiya”, about boxers who inherit the pure art of ancient muay thai chaiya before getting lost in the dark side of the professional Thai boxing scene in Bangkok. “Slice” is about friendship, revenge and discrimination told through a corrupt cop, while “Antapal”, which retells the story of young gangsters in Nonzee Nimibutr’s “2499 Anthapan Krong Maung” but from a different angle, depicts friendship and betrayal in gangster life.
He has changed his approach for “Take Me Home”. While his earlier films have not hesitated to show violence, Kongkiat plays it differently, describing his style as “minimal horror” with none of the sudden loud noises or piercing screams associated with the genre.
Despite his memory loss, Tan, as played by Mario, comes across as a young man full of hope for a more positive life but instead finds himself plunged into an ambience of fear.
“What would you do if you were forced to confront fear every day? You were hoping to be immersed in a happy family life but what if it isn’t as perfect as you expected, what will you do? Deny it and pretend that it is as you wish or accept it? Tan is representative of most of us,” says the director.
To overcome his problems with understanding his character, Mario worked closely with dramatist ML Bandevanop “Mom Noi” Devakul” – a consultant to the project – as well as with Kongkiat himself.
And now “Take Me Home” is done and dusted, the director is turning his attention back to “Khun Phan”, a highly anticipated historical action drama set decades ago in the South of Thailand. Ananda Everingham plays a police officer Khun Phan trying to take down a thief (Krissada Sukosol Clapp) but with no support from central government, must use his wit and superstitious power to fight.
Kongkiat says he is now working on post-production as Sahamongkol has told him the film is slated for release in July.
“We started work on it three years ago and produced a rough cut. Then it was shelved. I didn’t know why but I understand the way the studio works so there are no hard feelings,” he says.
“However things have changed a great deal over the last two years and I now need to update the ideas and visual effects so we are ready for a July release.”