In the remote North-East of Thailand, near the Cambodian border in the small villages around the towns of Surin, Si Saket and Buriram, magic is a powerful force.
Ancient spells in Pali are recited by the Paw Mot - witchdoctors - to protect villagers, to curse enemies, and to scare away ghosts.
This is not just myth. It is real.
For Dau, a young Thai/Khmer girl, growing up in a small forest hut with her grandmother, magic is part of her education.
She learns the power of magic to protect her from evil spirits, to bring her luck and beauty, and to rid her of rivals. She also learns the rules she must obey if she is to use her powers as a witch.
The rules are simple and known to many Thais:
A witch cannot eat raw meat.
A witch cannot pass under a clothes-line.
A witch cannot charge a fee for teaching the magical arts.
And all Thais know the penalty of breaking these rules - an evil will grow inside the witch with a craving for raw meat, offal, and blood. It is known as a 'Phii Borb'. When it has grown strong, it will leave the host's body and hunt for human meat.
It enters its victim's body and eats its victim from the inside out.
As Dau grows up, her grandmother becomes frail, and with no income, Dau has no money for medicine. Desperate to care for her grandmother, she leaves the small village and heads for Bangkok, where she is given work in a go-go bar.
We watch the naïve country girl learn the ways of the city, making friends amongst the bargirls, but also making enemies!
She soon starts to make use of her magical skills - to attract men, to remove obstacles, and to wreak vengeance on those who stand in her way. But in her carelessness, we watch her misusing her powers, and ultimately breaking the three sacred rules.
Thus, amongst the neon lights, the skyscrapers, the alleyways, and the hotel bedrooms, a monster is born - the 'P', hunting nightly, hungry for human meat.
Whilst Dau's enemies try to track her down, she must engage in a battle for her life and her soul.
Based entirely on mythology and common anecdotes, 'P' is a rollercoaster ride of chills and thrill, with a deep, dark, malevolent centre.
For Thais it is a story that will revive old nightmares, and it will bring to the outside world a truly terrifying character.
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