Chanthaly stands out as the first Lao horror film, and the first Lao film directed by a woman, Mattie Do. It made an impression on viewers at the Luang Prabang Film Festival recently.
The plot synopsis has been: "Raised alone by her overprotective father sequestered in their home in Vientiane, Chanthaly suspects that her dead mother's ghost is trying to deliver a message to her from the afterlife. After a change in her medication, intended to treat her hereditary heart condition, causes the hallucinations to cease, Chanthaly must decide whether or not to risk succumbing to her terminal illness in order to hear her mother's last words."
Will Lao horror go on to be on par with films like Shutter, The Ring, or The Grudge? Will we see a focus on fearful topics from a Lao perspective or will they aim for more marketable, accessible tales that eschew authentic Lao culture? It would appear Chanthaly is getting us off on the right foot. As many know, I didn't particularly find Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives satisfying because I could appreciate what he was trying to do as an artist, but as whole, it left me cold. But this looks promising.
The poster's a little overcrowded with sponsor logos, but it also suggests some interesting things about the modern Lao movie-making process at the moment and the marketing aesthetics. I suppose the end question is: Will it get people into seats? Time will tell.
No trailers have been presented for Chanthaly yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing it when the opportunity presents itself.