Thing most frequently said during the making of this movie: "Ala, bantai jelah" ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thing most frequently said during the making of this movie: "Ala, bantai jelah"

Skrip 7707
My rating:

I've watched three Malay movies (not including Gadoh, which is an indie) in as many months now, and I've noticed one thing: there hasn't been a single character worth rooting for in any of them. Nobody has a decent dramatic conflict, nobody ever does anything courageous or clever or heroic. Everyone is either a cardboard cutout moving to the strings of the plot, or an annoying moron who deserves to die before they breed. More often than not, they're both. For all that Malay filmmakers have this weird hangup about "filem yang memberi pengajaran", they can't seem to portray a single admirable quality in their films.

Such as, for instance, basic competence.

Abu Bakar "Burn" Osman (Norman Abdul Halim) is a film produc- um, screenwri- um, "orang filem" who wants to make a horror movie, but is frustrated by the lack of good scripts. (Unintentional irony!) So he organizes a midnight ghost-story-telling session in the middle of a cemetery with a bunch of strangers. (No, really, he doesn't even know their names. And neither do we.) So we hear several short ghost stories that Burn types up into a screenplay, and they get paid in packets of Yeo's Chrysanthemum Tea.

I have a friend who's a sound engineer for local film and TV productions, and I bet he'd get a kick out of this movie. My very first impression of it is that I've never heard such terrible audio mixing in my life. The (badly dubbed) dialogue is weirdly muffled, and the sound quality often dips in mid-sentence. The foleyed sound effects are hilariously incompetent - you'll hear the sound of a car door closing, but apparently it makes no sound when it opens. It's emblematic of the entire film; the people who made it just couldn't be arsed.

So this Burn guy somehow manages to conjure up nine random people to sit with him in a cemetery at midnight and tell ghost stories. In other words, it's an anthology horror film. There's nine of them, so they're all pretty short. The "jump" scares are lame, the direction is unimaginative, but the music does do a decent job of creating atmosphere; it's really the only thing in the movie that's close to scary. The first two segments are the kind of stories you've probably heard from friends who swear that it really happened to a friend of a friend of theirs. The third is a gruesome little tale that's notable only for being gruesome.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Malay movie without some good old-fashioned misogyny, so the next story is told by a guy who dumped his girlfriend after getting her pregnant, forcing her to perform an abortion on herself. And he is rightfully chastised for his sheer scumbaggery with a scathing "Tak patut awak buat begitu". Naturally, it's the girl who gets blamed for killing her unborn child, right down to being haunted by her dead baby and committing suicide. But the dead ghost baby effect is so bad, the movie wouldn't even show us a shot of it longer than half a second. And Fasha Sandha's performance as the luckless girl was horrendous. I can't even find a credit for the actor who played the douchebag boyfriend, but he was equally awful.

Next is a dull tale about more people getting freaked out by not-very-freaky dead people. After that is a story set in a morgue, in which a doctor accompanies a grieving mother in identifying the body of her son. Which instantly becomes burnt and blackened upon being uncovered. So while the mum talks about how the son hated to pray (yay! Tick off the "ajaran agama" box!), I'm thinking - dude, you're a pathologist. You're not in the least bit curious as to how something like that can happen to a human body?? Oh, and there's the one told by the girl who's ex-boyfriend is a thug and a murderer, and he gets revenged upon by the ghost of the guy he murdered - only, she wasn't there at the time, so how the hell could she tell the story??

Then there's the one about a teenage boy who was killed in a motorbike accident, but his little sister can see his ghost. And his parents express their grief at the tragic loss of their child by pouting a little. M. Rajoli and Maimon Mutalib are veteran actors - are they really that bad? I'll be kind to them and blame the director, Prof. Madya A. Razak Mohaideen, who either can't direct actors to save his life, or doesn't bother to do more than a single take for every shot, or can't be bothered period. Probably all three. 'Cos the last story features another eye-gougingly annoying performance by Shahrul Nizam, featuring a ghost who's a blatant ripoff of the Thai film Shutter, and is set in an abandoned hospital whose lights are still on.

That makes nine stories, one of which is told by Burn himself - and if there's nine people plus Burn at this midnight campfire confab, where's the tenth story? There isn't one. There's a female character who's there, who gets lines, but has no story. I think they just forgot to film it. The movie has one, and only one, saving grace - there's a CGI-assisted ghost effect in there that's reasonably cool. I'm guessing the portion of the budget that went into it was originally meant to be the sound engineer's salary.

Oh by the way, if you're wondering what's the significance of the "7707" in the title - the night where all these stories are told is supposed to be the 7th of July. And apparently this movie took three years to make, which explains the "07" part. It doesn't explain how in the world a thoroughly incompetent movie like this could take three years to make. The final nail in the coffin? There's an over-the-shoulder shot of Burn writing his screenplay towards the end, and there's a glaringly obvious typo in it. Everyone in the audience noticed. C'mon, Prof. Madya - you still think Malay moviegoers are dumb enough to swallow this shit you're passing off as a movie? You couldn't be more wrong.

NEXT REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123
Anticipation level: kinda meh


chicnchomel said...

You shud be given a medal of courage for even sitting through the entire movie. If i get you a gf, will you stop torturing yourself, please?

TMBF said...

Is that a promise? ;)

chicnchomel said...

I see what i can're not picky and analyse her like a movie, are you?

TMBF said...

Maybe I'll ask her to watch another Malay movie with me. :D

Unknown said...

you should start a youtube channel man i will be your most loyal viewer and we need people like you to bring the idea of criticism in malay movies to a center stage like youtube. maybe just one day i can actually look whats trending locally on youtube and it wont be dumb podolski vines and there will be more intellectual discussions on movies in malaysia. amen.