Stick to comedy, Ahmad Idham ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stick to comedy, Ahmad Idham

Niyang Rapik
My rating:

Is it just me, or do Malay movies tend to get the biggest cinema halls? This is the second time I've noticed this, and if it is indeed some FINAS stipulation or whatever, I can't imagine the cinemas are very happy about it. Local films that become bona fide blockbusters - or even make any decent money - are rare, and if cinema operators have to give up their biggest THX-enabled halls for screenings that are barely half full, they're losing out on revenue big time.

Especially if their best halls are showing the crappiest movies. Like this one.

When their friend Zack (Fizz Fairuz) dies under suspicious (and gory) circumstances, four friends - Saiful (Zed Zaidi), Zizan (Shaheizy Sam), Helmi (Kamal Adli) and Amir (Awal Ashaari) - suspect that it may be because of something he picked up during the archaeological research project they conducted six months ago, in the isolated village of Niyang Rapik. Their suspicions seemed to be confirmed when they find a "kerambit" (an antique dagger) that Zack smuggled out of the village, and they decide to return it to the village headman, Tok Neram (Nasir Bilal Khan). But strange things are afoot in Niyang Rapik; Tok Neram's beautiful daughter Laila (Liyana Jasmay) is as spooky as she is beautiful, a fisherman named Pak Salleh (Shahronizam Noor) keeps giving them dirty looks, and Tok Neram himself is more than he seems.

If you've read enough of my reviews, you'll know that my thing is plot and story. To me, film is first and foremost a storytelling medium, so that's what I pick on the most in my reviews. What we have here is a movie with a decent horror-mystery premise, but the screenplay seems as if it were written in a couple of hours. It's like writer-director Ahmad Idham thought of a few ideas, got excited about them, told them to another guy who couldn't give a rat's ass, then left the actual screenwriting to that guy.

The four main characters have hardly any personality - other than that Saiful is kinda the most level-headed and Zizan is kinda the most loud and annoying. But frankly, they're all annoying. From the very beginning, they're arguing and bickering macam budak sekolah darjah tiga. If we're supposed to like any of them, it sure ain't working. And all of them keep perving over Laila, which reminds me of nothing more than the Hong Kong Lucky Stars movies. Those were silly CNY comedies, not horror films that are ostensibly meant to be taken seriously.

But what gets truly laughable is when some shadowy villain (whose identity the film makes utterly transparent attempts to hide) starts casting some bad voodoo on these fellas. That's when they go totally batshit crazy, pretending that their blood is boiling or they're going blind - or, in one case, turning into an honest-to-goodness zombie. Dear Encik Ahmad Idham, ini filem seram ke filem komedi? And why would you even try to film that scene where the zombie leaps among the trees and rooftops, when you know there's no way you can pull it off? Did you honestly, seriously, biar-betul-ni think you could do it with jump cuts??

And did you watch Santau? I'm asking, because you've got a bunch of ghostly, long-haired, ickily-made-up apparitions just for saja je. What was the point of all those ghoulies? Why are they there? They have nothing to do with the story! But you can't even get a good handle on the story that you have. It's a mystery, meaning the audience gradually discovers what really happened during these guys' first visit to Niyang Rapik six months ago. So there's a lot of flashbacks, but there's no surprise or revelation to any of them. Tolonglah wahai Tuan Pengarah, timbalah ilmu sikit, fahamilah apa erti setup dan payoff, boleh tak?

Liyana Jasmay plays against type here, doing spooky and sultry instead of the cute and perky roles she usually does; she's quite good at it, even if the movie has her overdoing it towards the end. Shaheizy Sam does not live up to the potential he showed in Adnan Sempit, but that's not his fault - his character is written as just that stupid and annoying. For some inexplicable reason, Awal Ashaari is tasked with the most dramatic scenes, and he's utterly worthless in them. Has Nasir Bilal Khan ever been good in anything? He was awful in Bohsia, and he's just as bad here - all he does is scowl and growl and act like he's taking a really really big dump.

This is the first Malay movie I've seen with both English and Chinese subtitles. In the spirit of 1Malaysia, kudos for making the effort. But why is it that - and this is by no means the only Malay movie that does this - every time someone says "assalamualaikum", the subtitles translate it as "peace be upon you"? It's awkward and weird. What's wrong with "hello"? In any case, Niyang Rapik is just a bad, bad movie, made by people whom I doubt had any idea what they're doing. Hell, this is the first movie I've seen that was spoiled by its own poster.

Note: check out Obefiend's review, which is not only funnier and snarkier than mine, it also has a headline that I really wish I'd thought of myself.

NEXT REVIEW: Solomon Kane
Expectations: Robert E. Howard FTW!


TMBF said...

Generally it wasn't that bad - but there was still one bit where Liyana Jasmay is supposed to be crying, but you can very clearly see that she isn't. :D

Ajami Hashim said...


The Wan And Only said...

What were they thinking when they designed the poster??

Anonymous said...

Hi bro, just fyi, Assalamualaikum in arabic really do mean 'Peace be upon you'. It's more than just a simple hello. It's a prayer as well, wishing you well (no pun intended). There you go, a 1Malaysia explanation :) Peace be upon you.

fadz said...

ha, kan dah kata, padan muka Siti Jaslina Ibrahim... Siti Jaslina adalah penulis skrip filem ni (juga drama tvnya), seorang sasterawan dan pemenang sastera baru2 ni utk dramanya, Hikayat Haziq.. see see.. kan betul filem tu lain kan daripada teater/drama radio?

fadz said...

Siti Jasmina, bukan Jaslina..