Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dendam Orang M4ti: Movie Review.

One dark and stormy evening, Silvy decided to embark on a harrowing annoyed trip to e@Curve for a movie premier. The journey was as slow as a tortoise, filled with a multitude of curses and dark, stormy skies. But fortunately for her she had arrived to the destination with some extra time to spare (phew!). As to why it was an annoyed trip, well. Flash floods everywhere caused traffic to be practically on standstill almost everywhere on that day.

Okay so lame introduction aside, I was invited to attend a KRU Production movie premier: Dendam Orang M4ti. Sounds scary, doesn't it? To be frightfully honest, I don't think it is a scary movie per say, but more of a case of psychological instability. But let me take things slow before I take a step further :)

Before attending the movie premier, I had decided to run a quick search on the synopsis of this movie. This was what I discovered:

Official Movie Trailer
Produced by KRU Studios, this psycho thriller follows the story of Lena, who awakens from a coma with a shakey memory and various unanswered questions.

Movie Release Date: 23 October 2014
Language: Malay
Subtitle: Chinese / English
Genre: Thriller
Running Time: 81 minutes
Director: Jason Chong
Main Cast: Lisa Surihani, Fizz Fairuz, Miera Leyana

For the heck of it, here's the movie ticket =P
Malaysian sweetheart, Lisa Surihan i, being interviewed after the movie
Press Conference in session
Fizz sharing his filming experience with the audience
The celebs, along with the row of 'zombies' for the night. Those zombies gave me a shock of my life when they started slithering in the movie hall during the movie and touched my arm. I think I both startled and amused the crowd with my ear-splitting scream LOL.
Okay, so that sounds pretty vague with a lot of possibilities of what's about to happen...right? Promising, but not so much for me. I'm not exactly the greatest fan when it comes to horror/thriller movies so for this movie review, I brought a friend along. Movie review will be done by him and not me (seeing that I kept my eyes closed ALMOST throughout the entire movie) but you'll see some of my comments interjecting his review in blue :) P/S: Friend's also into filming so his review is pretty much on the technical side.

Of Judgment, Intentions, and Justification

Reviewing Dendam Orang M4ti

by Mehmed Hossein

What can we expect from the latest horror movie Dendam orang M4ti? It promised to be different, engaging and challenging, and by KRU, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be filled with effects work. Deemed as a psycho thriller, the font has justified what kind of movie it is, HORROR, but the font was too much (in your face) it’s like trying too hard to tell the audience IT IS a horror movie. Metaphorically, that's what it is, trying too hard. (Silvy: I personally find the movie title and the movie itself does not jive. It's like expecting to receive an orange only to get a grapefruit instead lol)

 The story is about Lena, who wakes up in a coma lacking memories of her past life (Retrograde Amnesia). Somehow she does remember her husband Shahrul, who apparently marries another woman, Min, much to the shock of the discharged patient. She was placed alone by the couple in a flat at the 4th floor (or 3A) where it is believed they lived there before and a hint of a tragic incident happened in the floor. In that level is where she starts experiencing horrific events that haunts her for vengeance. Why do they want vengeance? What’s her story? What are we missing here? Here the story builds up the mystery and curiosity about her past life. It’s a question and answer movie, you get to learn the exposition of the story from the hints of the ghosts, and the residents.

As the movie progresses, we learn more about the nature of Lena and the characters surrounding her, the gradual information we get, which in merit, is pretty good at building up. Story wise is ok, but the ending sucked. I hate the ending. I really hate it, was it the director's intention to piss audience off? I'm not sure. The ending puts the main character loses to the other 3 2-dimensional characters which we care less and robbed out of her life. Well… it’s basically a horror movie with ghosts where you have to solve the mystery and get the back story kind of movie.

Camerawork and cinematography wise is, decent. It’s fine but it lacks uniqueness. They did a great job making the film a decent standard horror movie because the focuses of the camerawork has intention into it. It gives me enough time to appreciate the subtle hints, and characterization. While with editing-wise are the jumpy cuts to make it seem thriller-psycho-ish kind. It’s like they’re pushing to make a music video more than a horror movie. It barely gives you time to connect with the environment. So any paranormal ongoing feels like its randomly pasted instead.

This movie reminds me of Silent Hill, how an environment turns into hellish nightmare. Does it work? Well... somewhat. The fear and scariness doesn’t work for me. It lacks enough suspense to make us feel the nightmare. There is something missing here, or perhaps they cram too much stuff to see here. Honestly the only time I shut my eyes is when she chop her fingers, which the scene is very well done, because the anticipation, the suspense, of that very scene, works. (Silvy: I can attest to that. He literally went "OH SHIT SHE'S GONNA CHOP HER FINGERS ARGHHHH~!!!!!" at me lol)

You see, this episode happens a lot; it’s just that the anticipation of this fearful episode is not there. Usually when we go to a horror territory, we would feel the suspense and fear, going oh shit why are you going there? I don't feel here. It's just... the next episode of fear, well... amuse me then. The effects however overshadow the aesthetics of the movie. I don't feel like watching a horror movie, I feel like watching an effects movie, which distracts me from the immersion of the horror experience. I believe the movie's horror works well if the effects are less of the money shot kind, it’s trying too hard to be horrific. The fact they use real pyrotechnics is interesting but most of the fire effects are like paste in, why? Because the fire light never bounced on the character, making it looks like a paste job. They should've color correct the scene to match the intense fiery scene more.

What about the characters? I can say we connect more towards the Lena character because she has more screen time and depth compare to the rest of characters. The idea of the director is to make the audience guess who the bad one is, who the right one is, who the victim is, and who is justified; here we are playing a judgment territory. We are judging characters by how much information we get from the characters, which is biased because the main character has more exposure compare to the rest, which are plain two dimensional stock characters.

Are we supposed to sympathize to Shahrul, the husband character? Even after the scene he claims to be the victim and he plays the hero rescuing Lena anyways? No, I don't think so. He lacks responsibility as a husband, an asshole, he don't even care for his kid, why should I sympathize him? There's lack of justification for me to root for the fella. Min's character is worse, a 2 dimensional bitch stock character, she's there just to be a bitch, and that's all to it, I don't see much of her perception, her understanding, her reasoning or anything to support her character, she's just a bitch. (Silvy: Min's character could be better, I admit. Even her anger felt made up instead of showing off actual emotions. There were some scenes where I believe Miera had pulled off Min's attitude nicely, but not all. Particularly during the bouts of rage towards Lena)

Lena on the other hand is interesting, embracing the role of ranging emotions. The subtle touch on her character (ie. her suicide scars) gives a hint of the incoming tragic story. It’s sad that her character, being a depressed person, is justified as crazy unstable psycho like its telling everyone who has depression can be dangerous, villainous people. True she did some stupid stuff, but depression works like gravity, the cause and effect made me question the justification of her character. Should we like, put arms down over this woman? 

Logic-wise, well if Shahrul and Mia are hell-bent not letting Lena getting her memories back, why would they let her stay in the same fricking flat? There'd be tons of residents there bound to tell her the story anyways. No, not just ghosts, the residents! It’s the inevitable situation. If you want to keep the mansion that was not-so rightfully given to you, why not throw her someplace else? Money? You're rich! You got Tan Sri to give all his possessions to his daugh- I mean the husband. To think, the plan sucked because it’s inevitably she'll find out the whole true story and kicking the shit out of the second wife (on Lena's technically own home). And what about the driver guy? He didn't do shit at that point?

The audio mixes do need a bit of fixing, it crossed the levels there, probably the cinema but... yea, and it’s a tad loud. It’s so loud I’m afraid of the sound more than the visuals. Most of the time I feel like it is trying to scare me using the sounds instead. (Silvy: YES IT WAS SUPER LOUD. I had to plug my ears almost throughout the entire movie not cause I was afraid but I felt as though my eardrums wanted to pop out x_X; kept glancing at the speakers as they crackle every now and then, especially when there's loud sound effects. Which is pretty often lol)

So what do I get in the end of the movie? I feel robbed, like being cheated and divorced by my husband/wife... (Unless it’s the director's intention) I left out feeling... damn. You see these kinds of movies; I need to take time to evaluate the shock factor. After a few understanding, I still think the ending is cheap. The ending is like rooting for the characters I never have the appeal for; it’s like a blow to me. It’s like if the movie ALIEN (1979) had gone with the original horrible ending where Ripley got killed and the Alien imitates her voice (which thankfully they never go with it). (Silvy: To be fair, I had somewhat expected the ending. Then again I've always been one who enjoys reading up on psychology cases, being a Psych student myself in the past. The ending gives the audience a lot to speculate on, which can be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing. Totally depends on how you like your ending to be like: definite or subjective)

The movie is made with intentions from the director, as he believes it should be. I believe he should understand more on perception and depth to justify audience’s judgment because they don’t feel right. I feel like he’s not telling a whole story, not that he leaves me questioning, he left me cheated. All in all I had to take time to evaluate the merits of this movie. It’s not that horrible (I’ve seen worse), it’s just trying way too hard.

P.S: I'm pretty sure feminists will hate this movie. (Silvy: HAHAHAHA when he told me this I was amused because yes, there's quite a few implications on what women should be like and such in this movie lol)

 Rating: 2/5

More photos of the event day (Photo Credit to the guest writer, Mehmed Hossein):

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