Thailand Bans Local Horror Film Over "Disrespect" to Buddhism

Bangkok H 2015

Scenes in the film show a monk kissing a woman and taking drugs.

A Thai horror movie about a Buddhist monk has been banned in the country over alleged disrespect to the Buddhist faith.

Thailand's ministry of culture announced Tuesday that the film, titled Arbat, would be denied its planned wide release on Thursday because it depicts "misconduct" by Thai monks, including drinking, drug-taking, violence and "improper relations" with women. The Thai censorship board said that some scenes were "disrespectful" to Buddha.

The Theravada school of Buddhism is followed by more than 90 percent of Thailand's 67 million citizens. Traditionally revered and still a central pillar of Thai society, the Buddhist clergy has been hit by various corruption scandals in recent years, including instances of gambling, embezzlement and prostitution.

Arbat is a Thai word meaning "violation" or "offense," usually used in reference to misconduct by monks.

The film follows the story of a young man who is forced into becoming a monk by his father. Alone and far from from home in the temple, the novice monk develops a non-platonic relationship with a local village girl. Strange temple secrets emerge and ghostly occurrences ensue. 

Arbat's producer, top Thai studio Sahamongkol Film International, said it was making changes to the film and would appeal the censorship decision.

Thailand's film regulators have blocked films in the past over depictions of Buddhism. Cannes Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century was banned in 2006 for showing monks drinking. In 2008, another Sahamongkol film, Nak Prok, was blocked for showing criminals dressed in monk garb while carrying guns and committing violent grimes.

The official trailer for Arbat is below.