Malaysian Horror Films
Malaysia has seen an explosion in the popularity of horror movies in recent years, and much of this can be traced to the improved production quality and adherence to stories drawn from local myths and legends. Possession and exorcism play a large part in these film, and you can also expect to see witch doctors, female vampires (known as Pontianak), and plenty of rural settings.
More horror films are being turned out in Malaysia than ever before, so those looking to explore terror from a different cultural perspective are in luck. Any of the following movies will serve as a fine introduction, but keep in mind that many more Malaysian horror films are out there waiting to be enjoyed.
- Dukun (2007) - Based on a true story, this controversial Malaysian film has yet to be released in its home country. Malaysian politician Datuk Mazlan Idris wants to boost his career, and so he hires the services of a woman and her husband who claim to possess supernatural powers. The woman happens to be Mona Fandey, a popular singer in the early 1990s. But something goes wrong when it’s time for the ritual, and the body of the politician is later found hacked into pieces. While a number of events have been changed for dramatic purposes, the overall product remains a chilling look at the kind of evil and superstitious nonsense that exists in the real world.
- Fragrant Night Vampire (2004) - Written and directed by Shuhaimi Baba, this is the movie that helped spark the recent surge of Malaysian horror films. Maya Karin stars as Meriam, a murdered woman who returns from the grave as a vengeful vampire in pursuit of those responsible. A major box office success, it was followed by a sequel in 2005.
- Don’t Look Back (2007) - The highest-grossing film in Malaysia, it stars Pierre Andre as Darma, a young man dealing with the recent suicide of his fiancée (Intan Ladyana). Along with her twin sister (also Ladyana), he decides to do a little investigating and soon learns that someone horribly supernatural is going on.
- Possessed (2006) - The second feature film from director Bjarne Wong, Possessed follows two Chinese sisters (Amber Chia and transgender actress Harisu) who come to Malaysia seeking stardom. When one falls into a coma and the other goes missing, it leads to a series of chilling visions, a desperate search, and frequent encounters with an obsessive male fan.
- Chermin (2007) - Also known as Mirror, this Malaysian horror film deals with a young woman named Nasrin (Natasha Hudson). After her face is disfigured in a car crash, he falls into despair over the loss of her beauty. Then her mother discovers an antique mirror, one which allows Nasrin to see her face as it used to be. But the magic of the mirror comes with a terrible price which soon results in murder. Also starring Deanna Yusoff and Khatijah Tan.
- Congkak (2008)- A husband buys a lake bungalow in order for his family to enjoy vacations, but he doesn’t bother to see it in person. When they arrive, the wife immediately begins to feel uneasy. The fact that their daughter plays congkak (a traditional Malaysian game) with someone who’s invisible doesn’t make her feel any better. Then come illusions and possessions, and the family is forced to seek the aid of a local Islamic holy man.
- Susuk (2008) - Diana Rafar stars as Soraya, a nurse in training who begins to long for a career in the world of showbiz. When she fails to achieve her dreams of stardom, she instead turns to black magic to succeed. At the same time, we also follow Suzana (Ida Nerina), a superstar who’s been engaging in black magic for years to gain and keep her popularity. The paths of both women twist and turn until they finally intertwine in a shocking climax.
That’s our look at Malaysian horror films. If you saw something you liked, I urge you to go out and rent or buy a copy. The more people who see horror movies from Malaysia, the better chance that they’ll be releasing examples of the genre in the future. And if you happen to have a nearby store that specializes in horror (like Eerie Books in Wylie, Texas), you know just where to star your search.