APRIL 30 — One of the biggest complaints we often hear from Malaysians when it comes to the seeming lack of progress of the Malaysian film industry is that our films are hampered by an unnecessarily strict movie ratings system.
A lack of clarity on what’s allowed and what’s forbidden, not to mention the similar lack of clarity and sheer inconsistency of the kind of content that makes it past the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (“LPF”), with even films rated 18 still being bleeped out and censored when it comes to expletives, sex and violence, only adds to the confusion.
This inconsistency has even resulted in a film that’s rated 18 being so heavily censored that the version that was passed for release plays more like one that’s suitable for the P13 audience, which makes one wonder what’s the use of that 18 rating in the first place.
So, forgive me if I wasn’t feeling that excited when it was first announced that a new LPF movie ratings system will take place here starting February 1, 2023, which will see a new set of five categories (as opposed to only three previously) called U, P12, 13, 16 and 18.
For the record, the previous three categories were U, P13 and 18, so these five new categories may well be regarded as an expansion of the previous three, covering a wider range of elements and taking into account a wider range of age groups and maturity.
However, after checking out three new horror flicks in the past two weeks, with one being rated 16 and the other two rated 18, I can definitely say with a lot of confidence, that this new ratings system is really something else because I’ve never seen this level of violence and gore in local cinemas before. Long may this continue!
‘Evil Dead Rise’
Let’s start with the big one, the latest film in a franchise that’s well-known for its affinity for staging an endless barrage of gory set-pieces, in which all sorts of limbs are severed and blood is shed everywhere and by the bucketloads, Evil Dead Rise.
Even in the USA it’s rated R, which should tell you how gory and bloody this one will be. Rated 18 over here, I’m ecstatic to report that not a single second of violence, profanity or gore has been cut out of the film, except for one digital zoom to cover up what must be an unholy piece of bloodbath right at the film’s climax, and having clearly seen what’s happening before and after that digital zoom, it doesn’t take away the audience’s enjoyment of that scene.
I’ve avoided writing about what happens in the movie because this one, like all the other Evil Dead films in the franchise except for Army Of Darkness, is also about a group of people terrorised by the Book Of The Dead when one of them accidentally finds it, except that this one’s set in a run-down high-rise apartment building instead of a cabin, and director Lee Cronin (who did The Hole In The Ground) delivers a delightful bloodbath more akin to the one delivered by Fede Alvarez in the 2013 remake than Sam Raimi’s more cartoonish original trilogy, but there’s a lot of imagination on display here when it comes to carnage, resulting in what’s surely one of the most fun experiences you’ll have watching a horror flick in the cinema this year. Catch this one at all cost!
Another movie that’s rated R in the US and receives the 18 rating here, the trailer for Renfield did not prepare me for the resplendently hilarious gore on display here, as the trailer was more focused on hitting the audience with the film’s genius trump card — a scenery chewing Nicolas Cage having the time of his life playing Dracula, as only Nicolas Cage can — even if the movie’s top billing belongs to Nicholas Hoult as Dracula’s bug-eating servant Renfield.
Seeking to break free from the toxic relationship that he has with Dracula, Renfield joins a support group for people with similar experiences, and the movie takes this concept and effortlessly runs with it, delivering an experience every bit as funny and kinetic as director Chris McKay’s previous film The Lego Batman Movie.
Still, since I saw this before I watched Evil Dead Rise and before I thought it was possible to see this kind of creative carnage shown without cuts and in full bloody glory on local cinema screens, the series of gory set-pieces that punctuate the clean, comedy fun that’s the heart and soul of the film every 10 to 15 minutes had my jaws falling to the floor since I just couldn’t believe what I just saw.
An entertaining horror comedy suitable for the whole family if not for all the violence and gore, I think you’ll find a lot to like here.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.