Monday, September 8, 2008

"The True Thai Ritual"

The True Ritual that Inspired the Film

Writer/Director Ekachai Uekrongtham was inspired to make The Coffin after hearing about a mass funeral for the living where thousands of people turned up at a North Eastern temple in Thailand to lie in coffins and went through the ritual.

Referred to in Thailand as "Non Loeng Sadorcro" which literally means Lie in Coffin, Rid of Bad Luck, this controversial ritual has been around for decades but in the last few years, it has become increasingly popular.

The ritual involves participants lying in coffins while a group of monks perform death rites on them as if the participants are already dead. This is then followed by a chant of new life.

Many participants had said they felt as if they were reborn after the ritual - with all their bad karma buried behind them. Some reported that they felt the ritual helped fool the spirits that they're already dead so they could start their new lives afresh like newborns. There are also others who claimed they've met spirits of their dead loved ones while lying in the coffins.
However, this "death rite for the living' is not without its detractor. Some brand it as an occult practice while many feel it's a bad omen to lie in coffins when they're still alive. Some went as far as saying that this ritual is nothing but a case of commercialism entering the sacred religious domain.

The criticisms, however, have not stopped more and more Thai people to voluntarily go through this "death ritual for the living'.
In Thailand, one may request for the ritual to be performed on him or her at a number of Buddhist temples across the country. Some temples publicize and conduct 'Non Loeng Sadorcro' regularly. Several others also organize 'mass funerals for the living' on a periodical basis.

Usually, no fee is charged but participants normally make donations towards the temples in return for having the ritual performed on them.

How did this ritual come about? It's speculated that the ritual in its current form is an evolved version of what stared out as a simple act of donating coffins to the poor and those who died without relatives.

THE COFFIN exemplifies the beauty of horror (UCLA's Asia Pacific Arts Magazine)

From Asia Pacific Arts Magazine (Sep 5th, 2008 issue)

Published by: UCLA Asia Institute, USA

The Coffin exemplifies the beauty of horror Supernatural horror film Long Dtor Dtai (The Coffin) premiered on August 21 in Bangkok and immediately topped the box office, beating Jason Statham's Death Race which opened in Thailand on the same day. Its theme song "Yeu / Free You" by the band Potato, which combines church organ music and upbeat emo rock music, has also been rocking the local charts.

Director Ekachai Uekrongtham, also the director of the Beautiful Boxer, collaborates with actor Ananda Everingham and actress Karen Mok to tell a story inspired by a true Thai ritual. A Thai architect and a Hong Kong dietician decide to go through the Thai ritual of lying in coffins in order to get rid of bad luck and to prolong life. However, after partaking in the ritual, they face a series of strange and terrifying incidents.

The Coffin has won critical acclaim due its delicate use of the most beautiful cinematic effects to convey horror, and the frightened audiences rave about scenes showing the symmetry of hundreds of coffins, arranged in concentric circles around a giant sitting Buddha. A cross-boundary production between Thailand, HK, and Singapore, The Coffin's cast also has cross-cultural tint to it: Mok of Shaolin Soccer is a Hong Kong-based actress of Persian-German-Chinese descent, and Everingham is a Thailand-based actor of Australian-Laotian descent. This English-language, cross-national product will be in theatres cross Asia in the upcoming months.
--Cathryn Chen

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"The Coffin" Filling Up With Cash

Ekachai Uekrongtham's horror film, The Coffin (โลงต่อตาย, "Lhong Tor Tai"), earned 15 million baht in its first four days since opening in Thai cinemas on August 21, according to an item in today's Daily Xpress. It's the No. 1 film in Thailand.

“It could end up close to 40 million baht, recouping our investment,” producer Pantham Thongsang is quoted as saying by Daily Xpress.

Major Cineplex, Thailand's biggest movie chain, lists The Coffin as its top movie, outpacing the newly released Hollywood actioner, Death Race. The top 5 at Major is rounded out by Wall-E, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and another Thai film, the Phranakorn martial-arts drama, Hanuman: The White Monkey Warrior, which opened on August 12.

The Coffin is a co-production between Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong interests and features a pan-Asian cast led by Hong Kong's Karen Mok and Ananda Everingham from Thailand. The original soundtrack is in English, but for Thai cinemas, it has been cleanly dubbed and English subtitles are added. I'd still like to catch the English version, just to hear Ananda's Aussie accent.

Plans to create an “international version” have been dropped, says Pantham, a producer at Thailand's TIFA Company Ltd. The same cut will instead be seen throughout Asia, and presumably, worldwide.

TIFA also says a song from The Coffin soundtrack, "Yeur" ("Won't Let You Go"), is jumping up the charts on music label GMM Grammy's social networking site, G Member.

Rights to The Coffin have already been sold to Hong Kong and South Korea, and it was supposed to open in South Korea in July, though I can't find any reference that it ever did. It was shopped at Cannes by Arclight Films' Easternlight label.

Also, Twitch unearthed an English-language trailer, and I find it better than the Thai trailer, which gives too much away.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The Coffin" scares up No. 1 slot at Thai box office

Supernatural horror 'The Coffin' by Thai helmer Ekachai Uekrongtham ('Beautiful Boxer') nails top spot at Thailand's box office last weekend - outpacing Jason Statham's 'Death Race' which opened across the country on the same day. The theme song from 'The Coffin' soundtrack is also storming the local charts and has already topped the 'G Member' chart on one of the nation's most popular websites.

Inspired by a controversial but true Thai ritual of lying in coffins to get rid of bad luck and prolong life, 'The Coffin' tells a thrilling, mysterious and moving story of a Thai architect and a Hong Kong dietician who decide to go through the ritual to cheat death only to be faced with a series of stange and terrifying incidents afterwards.

Shot in Thailand on actual locations including a 100-year-old temple, real cemeteries, inside active crematorium chambers and an ancient meditation cave, this Thai-HK-Singapore co-production stars Karen Mok ('Shaolin Soccer'), Ananda Everingham (Original Thai version of 'Shutter'), Andrew Lin ('Infernal Affairs II'), Napakpapha Nakpasitte ('Art of the Devil 2 & 3'), Suchao Pongwilai ('Ong Bak'), Tassawan Seneewongse ('The Unseeable') and newcomer Aki Shibuya.

"Plenty of Jump Scares! Superb Acting!
Ceaselessly Beautiful..."

Thailand's Daily News says the film "manages to shock and instill fear in audiences". It also praises all its stars for their "superb acting" and advises cinema-goers to "watch this film not just with your eyes - but also with your heart and brain". Thai Film Journal says the film has "plenty of jump scares" and is "ceaselessly beautiful". "Horror is rarely this gorgeous. There's the symmetry of hundreds of coffins, arranged in concentric circles around a giant sitting Buddha, as well as a long closet, full of mirrors, all reflecting terror."

Thailand is the first country to release 'The Coffin' which is presented by Live Inc., NGR, Global Entertainment Group and Scorpio East. Produced by Pantham Thongsang for Bangkok-based production company TIFA, this English-language horror will hit cinemas across Asia in the coming months.