‘Delete’ What Does The Magic Phone Symbolize In The Netflix Thai Drama? 

It’s a commonly known fact that art reflects culture and society, and movies are no less than art. But I firmly believe that horror movies are a representation of the world and the society they are produced by. Over the years, we’ve seen how the genre adapts with time and brings out new fears that are more relevant to the new generation. Delete may not be a traditional “horror” TV drama, but the way it’s shot, the narrative, and, of course, the broader concept of the whole thing are quite horrifying. So, I think it makes for a good example of what I’m trying to say here.


In our review, we mentioned how Delete bore a resemblance to the early 2000s Japanese technophobia era that ushered in a new wave of horror cinema, including classics like Pulse and Ringu that took the entire world by storm. These movies spoke to the fear of people who were afraid the internet might cost them their jobs. Similarly, a little time later, we got the Thai movie Shutter in 2004, which brilliantly uses the camera lens to show us our darkest secrets. Well, technically, there’s a ghost and all that, but the underlying message is that of guilt, which was captured fantastically through the camera. The story follows a couple who commit a hit-and-run that is followed by a series of unfortunate events that upend their lives. The final reveal is quite horrifying, and for the time it was made, it really packs a punch. When I saw the post for Delete, I thought it could be something similar to Shutter, and when I found out it was created by one of the directors of the same movie, it all made sense.

Spoilers Ahead


What I think Delete is trying to do is show us how people value each other in the world today. If one is able to obliterate a person from existence with just a click, how easy would it be to get rid of all our problems? We spend countless hours on our phones, replacing memories with photographs, because we’re too busy trying to remember the present rather than live it. Delete makes running away from your problems rather easy because you can delete them with just one photo. Similar to, Shutter, we see guilt in Aim, who deletes his own girlfriend when she finds out that he’s cheating on her and threatens to release a tape of him and Lilly to the press. Instead of solving the problem like adults and dealing with their guilt over cheating, they decide to delete their respective partners and move on with their own lives. It’s just that simple.

The Deleted And The Deleter

What’s interesting about this phone camera is that it doesn’t do anything else except remove people from the world, and will not allow one to delete themselves. The first thing June does when she steals the phone from Lilly is try and take a selfie, but nothing happens to her, and the phone doesn’t click an image either. Later, she clicks a picture of a cat, and it disappears from existence. With each of the characters that use the phone, they immediately figure out who they want to use it on rather than worry about where the person disappears to. Surely, they don’t believe they’ve killed a person? But more interestingly, when the photographer clicks, the person they’ve photographed gets sent back to the real world, meaning they didn’t die; they were just taken into a different dimension or so we can presume. Second chances? Clearing a guilty conscience? Or creating a vicious circle? There is an endless possibility behind the workings of this phone.


We see Aim as the most guilt-ridden person in the entire series. But we learn that Aim is also a big liar because the book that he wrote, which made him the man that he is today, is all a big fat lie. Aim may not be a terrible person; he’s just terrified of people’s opinions, and so he does the things that he does. That’s the reason for the book and the deletion of Orn. Later, he visits her mother and pays for her treatments. He also begins drinking heavily, but this could also be because Lilly chooses Too over Aim. A police officer is so determined to save his child and hide her secret that he will go to any lengths, even killing people. But he’s never willing to listen to her when she says she doesn’t want to be “here” anymore. The child never meant harm with the camera and only tried to ease the pain of those in the hospital who asked for it. When her friend with cancer gave her a reason to delete her, she refused, and this is when things changed for her. She too was burdened by the guilt of deleting her friend and all those people, and she decided there was no reason to be in this world anymore without them.

There is no curse or any kind of spirit attached to this technology, as in the current scenario, it would make more sense for this to be an AI device that teaches us life lessons by allowing us to delete each other for fun and games! Now I feel like I’ve described an episode of Black Mirror but they’re probably kicking themselves after seeing “Delete”, thinking, why didn’t they come up with that? In the end, Aim gets himself deleted by Too, Lilly’s husband, because he can’t bear the thought of living with the guilt of ruining Orn’s life, Lilly’s life, and the fact that his whole life was dependent on a very big lie. He tells the world his truth and disappears. What can be appreciated is that all the characters are flawed, and we as viewers are given a God’s perspective on all the characters that keep making mistake after mistake. Nobody is flawless; everybody is unlikeable, and so everyone is at fault, not the phone.


At the end of the show, Too deletes some dead women that have something to do with his father. He may have killed these women or done worse, and Too has the responsibility to save the farm and his father from getting a bad name. It’s possible they both did something together, but the way Too explains it to his father, it appears the latter is guilty. Either way, Too is definitely an accomplice, as he knows about the deed and “takes care” of the bodies. Now the question is, what if the phone somehow brought those women back to life? Or maybe the spirits would be attached to the phone, and until they’re set free, things will not be alright for Too and Lilly. There are a lot of directions the show could go, which makes for a great base. Ultimately, it works because it reflects human nature and the need for control over facing something head-on.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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