Shera AyobMd EyzendySidek HusinKilafairy
Also known as: Karak Laluan Puaka
Medium: film
Year: 2011
Director: Yusry Abd Halim
Writer: Norman Abdul Halim
Keywords: horror, ghost
Country: Malaysia
Language: Malay
Actor: Shera Ayob, Md Eyzendy, Sidek Husin, Kilafairy, Shahir Zawawi
Format: 90 minutes
Website category: Asian
Review date: 4 April 2013
It's a somewhat goofy Malaysian horror movie. Tomoko made fun of me for watching it.
The people behind this movie are KRU, a media entertainment company that started out in 1992 as a three-man pop group. They're brothers: Norman Abdul Halim (this movie's writer and executive producer), Yusry Abl Halim (its director and visual effects man) and Edry Abdul Halim (its composer). Sometimes they act too. They spent their teenage years in London, for what it's worth. Anyway, they now own KRU Records and KRU Studios, whose other movies include the international hit The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines, the award-winning Magika and the comedy superhero movie Cicakman (plus sequel).
Karak isn't going to win any awards, but it's a laugh.
This is ostensibly a ghost story, but it has nothing to do with the Ringu-inspired Asian wave of creepy, slow horror that gets under your skin. The Halims' inspiration was more likely to have been The Evil Dead. This film has energy. It's fun! It has lots of oogie-boogie ideas and it's positively throwing them at the audience. Some gets killed by a ghost before the opening credits, for instance, but what's more we get a juicy gawp at the spectre that did it. It looks good, actually.
I quite enjoyed the film, although it came to feel ever more pointless as we approached the finale. It's a lot of noise and fury that doesn't really add up to much. You can't fault the movie-makers for sustaining their film's momentum, but they're less successful at channelling it. There's more to screenwriting than just writing ninety minutes' worth of random ghost scenes.
However, that said, there are things I liked about the ending. Most of the cast are young, pretty and disposable, but Sidek Husin is an old dude with a massive bizarre growth on the side of his face. He brings emotional weight. I really liked the scene of him talking to his wife's grave. Then, after it's all over, there's a coda in the daylight that has nothing to do with killer ghosts and instead is taking a more emotional, meaningful angle. My initial reaction was "that revelation doesn't make sense". However it hangs together better if one hypothesises that a ghost might not have realised that it's a ghost, or else might be aware of that and yet still have the emotions it had in life.
I quite liked all that. I don't think it's a bad film at all, although it's too fast-paced and energetic to be scary. The best it can manage is some eerieness (often quite good) and Fake Scares By Prankster (again better than they might have been).
The production values are fine. It's indistinguishable from a Western film, but in Malay. (Usually. Every so often someone will throw in a random English phrase, especially "Knows She's Hot" girl, played by an actress with the awesome name of Kilafairy.) They drive cars and watch videos on their mobile phones, while the CGI and special effects are slick. There's nothing third world about this film, although that said you wouldn't want to use that service station toilet. I'm sure you could say that in almost any country in the world, though.
No nudity, not even from Kilafairy. Darn.
The performances are okay on the surface, but Md Eyzendy doesn't seem to have noticed the contradiction in his character being the one who sees all the ghosts and then suddenly getting all the sceptic lines. He's not trying to portray it as defensive or self-deception. He just plays it straight. "Idiot," thinks the audience. Later he similarly seems oblivious to the fact that according to the script, his character has just farted. Sidek Husin though is always good value. Incidentally I've just looked him up on the internet and I believe the actor really has that horrific growth in real life. It's like a second head glued to his chin. He looks like half of the Elephant Man. I admire the guy even more now.
This couldn't possibly be called a classy film, but I think it more or less works. It loses it badly in the final act by running out of story, but just about manages to rescue itself with that emotional content. I also laughed at the ghosts headbanging to Iron Maiden. That's a joke almost good enough to justify the film on its own. What's more, the film has lots of ideas for cool horror scenes and plenty of them work. The tailgating car is creepy, as is also the beautiful woman with three kilos of make-up. The idea of being able to apologise to your late brother is strong, emotionally. The small boy asking about his mummy even reminded me a bit of The Empty Child.
Not particularly worth hunting down, but perfectly watchable. Better than I'd expected.
"Why are you running away? Religious people shouldn't run."