Thursday, 15 July 2010

Mantra (2010)

penjara JOAN OF ARC demon jail scene
Mantra: Looks like that scene from Joan Of Arc (1999), innit?
At a glance:
Santau (2009) gets a thematic sequel with Mantra (2010), Metrowealth’s 38th in its catalogue and one that wishes to echo the RM 4.3 million success (collections from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) of the first movie last year. In Mantra, Zul Suphiaan (stage name Zul Handy Black, the dodgy neighbour in Santau) plays Muzir, a man who gets involved with dark powers and inadvertently gets thrown into jail for a crime. He loses his wife (Ana Dahlia) and while to another man, his one-time friend Hasbi (Hasnul Rahmat). In Pudu Jail (yes, you get to see several scenes shot inside it before its famous demolishin) he dabbles with the occult again by learnin black magic from an old prisoner (Rozaidi Abdul Rahman). With his newfound powers, Muzir manages to poison the warden (Hamdan Haji Ramli) and frees himself to seek revenge and reclaim his family.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Zul Handy Black
The recycled horror formula is simple – take an original research about black magic and add a strong revenge theme with an all-new cast of fresh faces, lettin it all bake in some decent CGI and sound work. You can say Mantra is better than Santau in all aspects, and can even lay claim to some artistic respectability due to its difficulty in producin – save for one sore point which is minimal character development, resultin in a compromised storyline. In the earlier 2009 film, the CGI work and the performance of its lead actors may not have been better but there were clear cut protagonists and antagonists who were easy to follow. In Mantra, the focus on the titular subject may (to the point of using “real” chants and incantations) seems to have backfired considerin the approach has come off a little too successful, takin away the appreciation of the 89-minute feature film as a whole. In other words, Mantra commands respect for its faithful adherence to the demonic subject but in terms of entertainment, we may not remember it as a particularly scary or successful film.
"Did you or did you not pick up the bar of soap?"
Reminds me of: 
The movie is one of the last to be filmed in the now demolished colonial relic Pudu Jail in Kuala Lumpur. Wished I had the chance to visit it but it was too late.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
In a nutshell, Mantra was probably a hell of a script but this screenplay doesn’t give it an engagin justification. Santau had a certain Stephen King appeal to it but Mantra just comes off more like a dramaticised documentary. Let’s hope the next horror movie from Metrowealth – Ngangkung – will set it right.★★★
Bonus material:

Pudu Jail, Kuala Lumpur. Now demolished.