The Isan people of the northeast region of Thailand believe that there are spirits everywhere. Some are the typical wandering souls of the deceased, and others are compassionate spirits who watch over a specific place. If these deities are supposed to protect local residents from interference by other spirits, whose motives are more carnage-based, then they’re doing a lousy job.
Nim (Sawanee Utoomma) lives a fairly placid life, which is impressive considering she’s possessed by a local spirit. This is not some head rotating, projectile vomiting scenario, and Nim is the latest in a long line of women who have played host to the benevolent spirit Ba Yan, making her the titular medium. When Nim’s niece Mink (Narilya Gulmongkolpech) begins to act strangely, it’s assumed that Ba Yan is attempting to choose a new vessel, but whatever is attempting to possess Mink isn’t quite so benevolent. A local documentary (or mockumentary) crew is on hand to capture Ba Yan’s potential relocation.
Somewhere within the decent 130 minutes is an excellent 90-minute film. The Medium is simply much too long, with its first two acts plodding slowly forward, repeatedly doubling back to the point of repetition. There are only so many grainy night-vision shots of Mink grinning eerily that are arguably necessary before it feels like padding. The first two thirds of the runtime are far from boring, but it merely holds an audience’s attention, instead of demanding it.
The film ultimately redeems itself, and all the bottled-up insanity that had been teased is unleashed (and then some). It’s almost worth the unnecessary sluggishness up to this point. After a slow, measured jog, The Medium begins a mad sprint to the end credits, with the souped-up climax displaying a bonkers energy that’s as entertaining as it is wonderfully disturbing.
The Medium does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Medium here: