Review by Sean Boelman
The Thai horror film The Medium partners some of the best voices in horror from across Asia, but the result isn’t as scary, nor even as interesting, as one would hope. A few interesting ideas and a strong premise aside, there isn’t enough going on here to make this any more than a decently-executed found-footage horror flick.
The movie takes the form of a fictional documentary following a shaman whose niece begins to experience supernatural occurrences that suggest that she may be inheriting the family’s shamanism, but could have more sinister implications. The title cards in the introduction of the film show its potential to be something interesting, but what results is a pretty standard possession horror.
What threatens to make the movie stand out is the cultural specificity it has. The film is set within a region of Thailand with unique customs relating to shamanism. And while these traditions and rituals set the stage for an interesting horror, the script doesn’t make much of them. That said, the movie thankfully doesn’t otherize the people whose culture it depicts.
Part of the issue with the film is that the pacing is rather weak. It’s rare for a horror movie to clock in at over two hours, and a movie has to earn that length. Unfortunately, this one does not, with little happening in the way of tension for much of the runtime. The final act offers a supposed payoff that is hectic, but not all that memorable.
The character development in the film is also lacking. For a movie that is about a tight-knit community, there isn’t a whole lot here that is especially emotional. There is an investment in the family dynamic in the first hour or so, before the horror starts to take over, but it doesn’t result in any real connection.
For the most part, the cast in the movie is solid. As the lead, Narilya Gulmongkolpech does a good enough job convincing the audience of her horrifying situation. Although Gulmongkolpech doesn’t add anything new to the possession canon, she has a few scenes in which she really heightens the terror.
Visually, the film doesn’t have a whole lot going on that lets it stand out from the many found-footage horror movies. The camerawork is about as shaky as it can be, and the setting is mostly generic rainy woods. There are some solid effects in the final third, but they aren’t enough to immerse the viewer.
The Medium isn’t a bad film, but it’s definitely a disappointment considering all of the talent involved. It’s ultimately going to be little more than a forgettable entry into a genre full of generic B-movies.
The Medium is now streaming on Shudder.