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Dorm: Youth in Transition

July 29, 2010

At first glance, Songyos Sugmakanan’s Dorm might easily be dismissed as another tired Asian ghost story.  But first glances can often be misleading, and in the case of Dorm, downright wrong.  Yes, there is a ghost in the dorm, but there are also real live kids in the dorm, kids who think, feel, and dream.  

Chatree is there, but not by choice.  One night over dinner, his father announces that he is sending Chatree to boarding school.  Without a word, young actor Charlie Trairat displays shock, sadness, and anger with only a pained look on his youthful face. This is an actor in command of his craft.

Ms. Pranee greets the family at the entrance of the school, immediately presenting a daunting force charged with the care of the boys.  A sad, lonely woman, Pranee spends each night alone staring into a mysterious desk drawer, tears streaming down her cheeks as the record player sticks on the same classical note.  Yet during the day, she is the evil nemesis, the Nurse Ratchet of this asylum. 

But in the dorm, nothing is as it seems, and as the story slowly unravels, one secret after another reveals a complex, touching story of one child’s struggle to maintain his identity under the weight of betrayal and lies, one woman’s never-ending anguish over her deadly mistake, and one boy’s tortured soul and its attempt to right what went so terribly wrong.

At its heart, Dorm is the story of Chatree and Vichian, two lonely boys looking for companionship amidst the chaos of youth.  Vichian is the teacher in this relationship providing the younger boy experiences that will forever change him.  Chatree is consumed with his own problems, drowning in anger and hate.  But Vichian wakes him up, shows him the world outside his head, and unleashes the man within.

The horror of Dorm is not in its ghosts, but in its truth of the human condition.  There are no villains, no demons, and no evil forces.  There are only life’s little tragedies.  And in the end, it is the little tragedies that push each of us into adulthood, that steal our innocence and seal our fates.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. j miller permalink
    December 25, 2010 10:47 am

    I used to go to school with you. I remember your interest in Fangoria too. Don’t know… was reviewing the first half of my life and your name came to my mind. Funny how certain people just stick in your craw for decades.
    No clue if you’ll get this but eh.. what the eff. Thought I’d drop a line.

  2. drewgolburgh permalink*
    December 26, 2010 4:19 am

    Hey Jennifer, which school did we go to together? Send me an email to – Drew

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