Nong Hak (Dearest Sister)
10th October 2016 9.00pm at Prince Charles Cinema
12th October 2016 3.45pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
Only the 13th feature film ever to come out of Laos, Laotian filmmaker Mattie Do directs Nong Hak (Dearest Sister), a supernatural tale that explores wealth, morality, and interracial relationships. Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya) is sent from her village to the capital, Vientiane, to assist her wealthy cousin, Ana (Vilouna Phetmany), who has the ability to communicate with the dead after losing her sight.
Christopher Larsen’s screenplay slowly constructs an eerie story that focuses on women’s roles within Lao’s class hierarchy. Ana is married to Jakob, a well-off Estonian businessman who seems to be going through a tough time due to his job. Each time the spirits of the dead visit Ana, they give her the winning lottery numbers. Nok, who overhears this, then puts the numbers on to reap the rewards for herself. It’s not long before she has to choose between helping her cousin get well or gaining personal wealth for herself. Tempted by the materialistic possessions that a lottery win can bring, Nok’s family loyalty is tested. She’s also envious of Ana’s wealth because of her marriage to a European.
Nong Hak (Dearest Sister) is an intelligent film that feels like a parable; the story itself is haunting enough to satisfy any horror fan whilst giving the viewer an insight into Lao’s social and political landscape. An atmosphere of tension and paranoia permeate the film throughout, and this is only enhanced by the cast’s authentic and believable performances.
Funded by an Indiegogo campaign and made with a budget equivalent to $45,000, this feature is a refreshing take on the horror genre. Low on jump scares and predictability, the viewer is presented with a truly haunting story where it’s always uncertain if Nok will pass the moral question asked of her or not. The Laotian film industry has come on a long way in recent times, and on the strength of this latest offering, film fans can look forward to the future.
Nong Hak (Dearest Sister) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Nong Hak (Dearest Sister) here: