APRIL 13 – I have given up on Malay horror movies. There had been some interesting storylines in the past 15 years but all in all, there wasn’t anything groundbreaking.
What’s worse, there would be a simple remedy to each paranormal situation – call the shaman, let him recite some mantras and there you have it, problem solved.
There simply wasn’t enough tension to keep me glued to the screen. But still I could not stop watching, horror being a deeply-rooted passion I’ve had since childhood and Malay horror movies being one of my bridges towards the culture back home.
Back in 2006, when Dukun was being filmed, it stirred an excitement in me. I was not expecting any kind of jump scares or some out of left field plot twist.
That was not the kind of film I expected Dukun to be. What connected me to Dukun was the fact that, during my school days, I was acquainted with one of that particular dukun’s family member! Some may even say we were friends.
We lost contact when he moved away sometime in 1990 and in an era when there was no email and calling a person in another state was expensive, we lost touch.
Three years down the line, I see his picture in Utusan Melayu talking about Mona Fandey AKA Maznah Ismail. I was shocked out of my wits.
The story was being printed almost daily in mainstream newspapers, especially Malay ones. It was difficult to imagine such a thing could happen in Malaysia.
There was not much news when Mazlan Idris, a local politician went missing. While there was an investigation, it did not make prime time news, as I recall.
However, when his body was discovered and the manner with which he was murdered was made public, that became quite another matter.
His body was found in an old dilapidated hut buried in a hole covered with cement but that was not all. It had actually been cut into 18 pieces.
For a 17-year-old boy who was into the macabre, this was the stuff of nightmares.
What made the whole thing even more titillating was the fact that Mona Fandey was the “star of the show”, as it were. There were two other suspects, Mazlan her husband and Juraimi, an assistant of sorts.
But the attention paid to them was miniscule compared to Mona Fandey herself.
First of all, it was shown that she had formerly been a recording artist! Her lone music video was shown on the iconic TV entertainment magazine, Melodi.
Seeing her belting out her pop song on TV while knowing that she was a murder suspect was chilling. This was added to the fact that she was utterly nonchalant about the deed.
It was as if she was turning up for a dinner party rather than to a court hearing. And of course there were rumours of her time in prison as well.
Apparently, there were times when her cell was found empty but she would return the following morning. All these went into making Mona Fandey a legend.
For some reason, Dukun was not approved before but now after more than 10 years, it finally is.
The marketing stunt which came along with it was brilliant but unnecessary. It came in the form of a video of an apparent “sighting” of a woman in a red kebaya (the dukun’s signature outfit in the film).
Later, it was revealed that this was apparently part of the film. If so, it was an unnecessary giveaway of a major scare, in my opinion. I am sure people would have gone to see Dukun without it anyway.
The mythology of Mona Fandey is set to wow a whole a new generation.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.