Friday, 1 January 2010

Santau (2009)

At a glance:
David Teo wanted RM 10 mil but a crowded release schedule won't have it. I think collection's close to 4 now. However the main point is that after 33 previous films, looks like local prolific powerhouse Metrowealth Movies Production (more often credited as Metrowealth International Group, MIG) finally got it right. With the release of Santau, Malaysian cinema can finally boast of a projected box office shockbuster that is solid as it is sound, and one that can travel regionally as a credible and entertainin supernatural horror flick, immediately betterin those pocong and kuntilanak efforts that pour in all too easily to these shores. Like watchin a movie adapted from a Stephen King book, Santau combines Malay occult practice with a tight story, decent editin, convincin traditional FX and an able lineup to offer a complete movie experience that was frankly woefully missin in part or in whole from previous MIG movies e.g. Jangan Pandang Belakang and Congkak. This time around, sudden loud noises, constant shriekin and overdone look-behind-you shots take a backseat to proper character development and scene resolution as we follow a married couple and their daughter who are all hexed by an unknown enemy.

Bad news on the doorstep:
There's the possibility that I'm endorsin this only because I'm happy it exceeded my expectations. You might still find it generic shyte.
Perennial wonderment:
If Malaysia will ever see a nude possession scene in a local film. All these clothes are a real nuisance to the occult feel.
Watch out for:
Maggots for Putri Mardiana?
All in a day's work.
Putri Mardiana havin a Maggot & Rotten Egg happy meal! This newcomer may have a slightly limited range of emotions but her elaborate possession scenes make her an actress to look out for in upcomin projects. Her nervous housewife character Nina is the chief accursed and she's well supported by Esma Danial as the desperate husband Halim, while young Farisha Fatin gets an introduction as their confused child. At any point if the inconsistent performances by these actors threaten to show, all is well covered by a progressive story with complementin camerawork and some truly macabre makeup and special effects. Riezman Khuzaimi, Zul Handy Black and Bob Lokman also star in supportin roles. However, perhaps greenhorn director Azhari Zain and his immediate crew who are to be lauded for this wonderfully scripted effort.
Most memorable line:
Ustaz: "Apa agama engkau?"
Nina: "Majusi"
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?Complete with customary twist and an extended climax overkill in exorcism ritual (not to mention without the token romantic subplots and other useless cinegredients that plague local horrors), Santau is chillingly effective like a local Drag Me To Hell and isn't too far off from bein the best thing Malaysia can yet hold up to classics like Exorcist and Poltergeist. Intense hair-raiser that could be remade with more violent, bitter black glory. Four stars.