Let's do the twist ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's do the twist

Khurafat
My rating:




So, Syamsul Yusof - progeny of Yusof Haslam, whom eye-eye-are-see is the first local filmmaker to hit RM1 million box-office (minus inflation) - won Pengarah Terbaik for Evolusi KL Drift 2 at FFM23 last year. Which I suppose was deserved, if only because that movie had the most technically accomplished stunts of any local film to date. But I also said that Syamsul seems to be a far worse screenwriter than he is a director (his abilities as an actor lie somewhere in the middle), which does not put him on my list of Filmmakers To Watch Out For. Even when he ventures into horror for the first time - and even when it garnered positive reviews from local movie bloggers Tontonfilem and Ajami Hashim.

Sorry guys. Still didn't like it.

Johan (Syamsul Yusof), newly wedded to Aishah (Liyana Jasmay), is by all appearances a good person, loving to his wife, filial to his mother (Fauziah Nawi), and successful in his medical career. Only his ex-girlfriend Anna (Sabrina Ali), whose obsessive love for him reaches the point of suicidal depression, mars his happiness. Then ghostly manifestations start occurring to both Johan and Aishah, and Johan suspects that Anna has placed a supernatural curse on them. But a mysterious old custodian (Mariani) at his hospital may also know something about the horrifying visitations.

A quick digression on Malay horror movies. Early in Khurafat, there's an exorcism scene in which this imam drives an evil spirit out of some old guy's body, and he does this by doing nothing more than recite Quranic verses. Now, I know this is a reflection of modern Malay-Muslim society that believes Nothing Is Awesomer Than Islam, Y'all - but it also means we'll never make a truly great horror movie. I mean, if any manner of supernatural threat can be pwned by reading from a book found in every Malay household in the country (in perfectly-accented Arabic for extra powah), then how can it ever be scary?

Anyway, that exorcism is a bit of a head-scratcher; you'd think it'd be relevant to the storyline later on, but it isn't. It certainly doesn't work as a red herring, which is what Syamsul probably intended it to be since there's plenty of those here. See, this movie has a twist ending, and although it may be a spoiler just to reveal this, I can't properly review it without doing so. I can say that I didn't see it coming, which is a compliment to its plot and how well it doled out its (other) red herrings. It's the kind of ending that puts everything that came before in a new light, and it's most likely the one thing that's been garnering Khurafat its good reviews.

But it didn't work for me, because it didn't redeem the lameness of everything that came before. Syamsul's weakness for idiotically on-the-nose dialogue is as evident as ever, not to mention his penchant for grammatically impeccable sentences. His scripts might score A1s for SPM Bahasa Melayu, but they sure don't sound like anything real people say. Wahai barisan pelakon, korang tak rasa kekok ke, mengucap dialog ni? And then there's his portrayal of Anna, who is just insanely stupid and pathetic. All she does is bawl about how much she loves Johan and beg him to take her back, and we get some three or four scenes of her doing just this. Which again points to Syamsul's buku-teks-Darjah-4 writing style. (I feel sorry for Sabrina Ali, whose first major film role is of such a wretchedly annoying character.)

So yes, this movie lost me at hello. I couldn't help noticing its other instances of dumb storytelling; for example, Anna attempts suicide by mutilating herself gruesomely, and Johan intervenes in time to send her to the hospital. Later he goes back to see her... at her home? She got discharged so fast? Do Malaysian medical facilities not provide suicide watch? Most likely this is yet another instance of Malay movies portraying a world that lacks basic civil services. Jika anda berada didalam Van Jenazah yang ditimpa kemalangan jalanraya, apa anda akan buat? Guna henpon panggil ambulans, panggil polis, panggil PLUS Ronda? Johan tidak. Dia pikul jenazah tu pergi rayau-rayau tengah hutan.

And as for whether or not it's scary, my answer is a hearty, resounding "eh". It's the same old creepy long-haired icky-complexioned female ghost-type scares - well-staged, but seen a dozen times before. They're pretty much arbitrary, as if the ghost is operating on an alternating schedule of scaring the shit out of Johan and Aishah every 18 hours or so, just for teh lulz. More than once, a scary scene even cuts to the scaree waking up to realise it was a dream - the cheapest of cheap scares. I just wonder why Johan, knowing full well there's a jembalang haunting him, still insists on working late hours in dimly-lit hospital offices and corridors. Tak reti bukak lampu ke? He's also a moronically passive protagonist who hardly does anything to solve his hantu problem. His reaction upon coming face-to-face with the spirit is to close his eyes and, I dunno, think of his mum's gulai daging or something.

Now I did say the overall plot was well-constructed, and the twist ending works reasonably well. (There's a bit of foreshadowing in an early scene which reveals Johan's insecurity about his humble financial standing, which was a nice touch.) All of which are admittedly rare and precious qualities in local films. But I can't find it in me to give it even an extra half-star for this, because a somewhat-clever twist ending alone does not a good movie make. Terrible dialogue, one-dimensional characters (waste of Liyana Jasmay, who deserves better roles than this), clich├ęd scares, all add up to a film that I just plain disliked. In fact, now that I think about it, the entire storyline is ripped off of a certain popular Asian horror movie from the past decade. Maybe that's where the good parts of Khurafat came from.

NEXT REVIEW: Faster
Expectations: haven't seen a good Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson movie in ages

3 comments:

tukang karut said...

hampir nak tgk movie ni because of all the hype.
"gile best!"
"seram siot cerita dia!"

tapi after reading your review terus tak jadi. haha.

Melodica said...

i beg for differ for khurafat.personally to me its the best malay scarry movie eversince the classic toyol bacok movie.

yeap. at first i find it akward in some of the unrealistic potrayals in some of the scene. for example,mortuary scene(not enough lights).

i love seeing a movie having iconic scenes and the execution of it was executed well to make us remember the scene for the longest time.

its all make sense in the end why johan held and carry 'mayat' ana in the accident. he had actually died in the scene,as symbol of his remorse.He just wanted forgiveness from ana.

anyway just to share with you there are FINAS rules that the local director has to follow, hence the johan was potrayed in a comma. he cant be potrayed as a dead person doing all those thing in his 'spritual' period(alam roh).Hence syamsul has to potray all johan'doesnt make sense' sense right after the accident as an whats going on in johan's state of comma mind.

but honestly he actually had actually dead during that accident.

the only thing that i wanna change for this movie or hope that it might improve this movie just:-

1.liyana jasmay perhaps to change to other actress that can carry the script and character better than herself. maybe heliza aF? or other unknown actress.(but maybe syamsul just wanna utilised liyana's popularity to draw her fans to the cinema,so in terms of marketing i agree to that-its a risk that he as to take should he hire unpopular actress to play the role.

2.the bomoh scene was actually quite annoying but i guess final has rule down that all acts of exorcism by muslim must recite quran? you can double check on that.

3.weak subplot that involves maryani(i mean come on lazy mind cant think of other way to add suspense scene and character detected).

4.the actress who played anna(shes quite old to play a character who has no sense of thinking,well yeah, i understand that she has been cursed with black magix, but i believe actress aged 22-25 should be hired instead. she doesnt look attractive on the dance floor and look even more pathetic and anoying in all of her 'bagging'scene. maybe instead of maryani, its more rational to me if syamsul created ana's new boyfrend or love insterest to stir some curiosity(well maybe he sent the 'ghost' to johan?

anyway i couldnt dare watching this movie alone and that makes this movie scarriest malay movie even with decent storyline. i see somemore awards should be given to shamsul for this movie alone.

otomen87 said...

Lawak la the fact dia pilh nak bawak mayat yang all ready mati instead of kawan dia yang tengah nazak dalam kereta...stail bangang tahap lime