Directed by Sophon Sakdaphisit, ‘Home for Rent’ presents a bone-chilling narrative that delves deep into the sinister world of dark forces and human sacrifices. The Thai horror movie centers around Ning and Kawin, a young couple and their 7-year-old daughter, Ing. When the three decide to relocate to a condo that they own, they rent out their home to two apparently regular tenants: Ratree, an old retired doctor, and her quadragenarian daughter, Nuch. Soon, strange occurrences begin to occur in the house, even as Ning uncovers that her husband Kawin is hiding something from him. As she tries to dig into what it is, Ning realizes that Ratree is not just an old retired doctor, but she is involved in a cult.
What terrifies Ning further is when she discovers that Kawin and Ratree are working together to use her daughter Ing as a medium to connect with Kawin’s deceased older daughter, Jaa. Knowing that her daughter’s life is at risk, Ning decides to do all it takes to save her life from the deadly cult. The 2023 film’s in-depth handling of the occult while probing into the horror genre deals with themes of mystery, darkness, and the supernatural. It compels viewers to question whether the base of Sakdaphisit’s ‘Home for Rent’ is a true story or simply a terrifying yet magnificent piece of fiction.
Home for Rent Draws Inspiration From Several Real-Life Events
Even though ‘Home for Rent’ is driven by a fictional narrative, director-writer Sakdaphisit and his co-writer Tanida Hantaweewatana drew inspiration from several true stories of human sacrifices and tenants committing crimes in rented homes. Although the characters of Ning, Kawin, Ing, and Ratree are all fictitious, Ratree’s intentions of using Ing as a proverbial “sacrificial lamb” for her own ominous motives are quite prevalent in modern-day Asian society.
One such case dates back to 2004, when 12-year-old Prapassorn Jiamcharoen in Damnoen Saduak’s Floating Market area in Thailand’s Ratchaburi province was killed in a sacrifice. Her mother, Kanchana, confessed that she committed the crime with a few other family members with hopes that the Hindu God Indra would bless the family’s fruit farms. ”I killed my daughter to bring light to the world,” said Kanchana upon her arrest. In a similar case from 2023, a 10-year-old boy named Vivek Verma was sacrificed in Bahraich City in Uttar Pradesh, India, by his family to help improve the health of a cousin’s perpetually sick child. These are just two of several such cases in which human sacrifices were conducted in hopes of appeasing the gods above or as a form of gifting of the soul to aid in providing a permanent cure to the sick.
Similarly, in the film, Ratree plans to use Ing as a sacrifice for her deceased daughter, Prae, whose spirit resides in a doll. She intends to use Ing’s body for Prae’s rebirth. Even as Kawin is left blindsided by Ratree’s real plans, his wife decides to prevent the latter’s intentions from coming to fruition. A twist of faith eventually sees Ning prevent the transfer of souls. Even though she manages to destroy Prae’s soul to prevent it from entering her daughter’s body, unbeknownst to her, Ing’s body no longer hosts her own soul, but that of Jaa’s, who had inhabited the body to prevent Prae’s soul from entering. Sakdaphisit has tried to use the terrors of the unknown to showcase Ning’s fears as she’s left unsure of who to trust in her moment of turmoil.
Every corner she looks to, hoping to find help, she comes across someone who is secretly a member of the cult from which she’s attempting to save her daughter. The trauma of believing what meets the eye, only to realize there’s much more to the people residing in their house, is done with an eerie precision that makes even the most strong at heart tremble. The stellar cast, which includes Nittha Jirayungyurn, Penpak Sirikul, and Sukollawat Kanarot in pivotal roles, does a brilliant job of bringing out that desperation and helplessness of loved ones looking for a solution and hoping for a miracle to bring back those they hold dear.
The emotional turmoil pulls at one’s heartstrings even as the realization dawns that it’s mostly in blind faith. With its precise research in place, the writing leaves one absolutely convinced of its reality, even as the themes of stillness, fear, and the supernatural further play out. However, despite the brilliance of what the competent director and his equally brilliant team of performers intended to convince, ‘Home for Rent’ is a fictional story that stays partially rooted in the real world.
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