Before sitting to watch, one pegged The Coffin as another entry in the Asian horror fad that has grown up in recent years, following Japanese hits like Ring (1998), Ju-on: The Grudge (2003) and various sequels, imitators and English-language remakes. There have been a number of Thai entries in this fad, most notably with the films from the Pang Brothers, especially their hit The Eye (2002).
The Coffin certainly catches your attention from its opening scene in which a female tv presenter is talking to the camera as the camera pulls back to reveal she is in a coffin where she explains how she has been buried alive as part of the ritual to banish bad karma, while the shot keeps pulling back to reveal that she is in an arena surrounded by hundreds of identical coffins. The ritual aspect one has no idea whether the coffin ceremony is a real Thai ritual or not is certainly an unusual spin to give a horror film.
Alas, after doing so, The Coffin goes nowhere. The film has an interesting set-up but little idea what to do with it. Ekachai Uekrongtham spends the rest of the films running time with two parallel stories of characters being haunted after having undergone the ritual. I did like one scene where Karen Mok is in the bedroom at her friend (Florence Faivre)s place and her fiance Andrew Lin appears to her, before she learns that he has died in a crash. When she returns with her friend, the friend can see nothing there but when Karen peeps around the frame of the door, she can still see him sitting on the bed.
The rest of the film is one where Ekachai Uekrongtham creates much mood but ultimately a dull film. Despite all of the frequently haunted things happening, none of it ever coalesces into a single frisson that jolts one in their seat with something eerie or unexpected. It feels like a film that is being too nice to ever push its material to anywhere that would get to a genre audience. Moreover, the script never develops its idea much beyond the initial premise. All that happens is the characters undergo a ritual followed by things that keep happening to them, all of which soon blur into a sameness, before it is abruptly realised that they can undergo another ritual to set things aright.
Ekachai Uekrongtham has made several other films but has yet to return to genre material.
Full film available online here:-