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News for January
by Georgette Tan
Director: Bjarne Wong
Cast: Amber Chia, Harisu, Steve Yap, Alan Yun, Smyth Wong, Sharifah Amani.
URL: Official Website
Yup, the long-awaited Sarawakian movie is here and everyone wants to know how it compares to that last one they did. In a way, it's kinda sad that Malaysia only just caught up with the ghost chase, with 6 more boleh*-brewed horror movies scheduled for release over the next few months.
Amber (Amber Chia) is a supermodel who has lost both her memory and her sister. Nobody has any idea what happened to the equally lovely Li Su (Harisu), who vanished without a trace around the same time Amber had that amnesia-inducing accident. Logic dictates that both incidents are related.
Amber is brought back to Malaysia by her boyfriend/manager Dino (Alan Yun), who had an affair with his assistant Belle (Liu Yan Yan) while the model was away. Belle thinks that this is a good opportunity for her and Dino to make it official. Dino decides to wait and see. If Amber picks up on any of that, she couldn't care less because she has no idea who the two are anyway.
Then, the nightmares begin. There is definitely some sort of malevolent presence following Amber around the house, a woman in the standard Asian spook uniform. She doesn't know what to make of this, but with every encounter, the ghost is bolder.
After her first fashion show back in Kuching, Amber is cornered by a creepy stalker (Manolet), who chloroforms her assistant (Smyth Wong) before bursting into the bathroom and taking photos of a screaming and cowering Amber. Help is at hand. A certain dashing stranger named William (Steve Yap) is lurking around for an opportunity to approach her and ends up saving the day.
Amber accepts an invitation to dinner with him. At some point, he confesses to being her sister's boyfriend. He is also hoping that Amber could tell him what happened to Li Su. She is still no help at that point.
Things kick into a higher gear when Amber realises who her resident spook is.
The good news is that it's a far more superior production than Bjarne Wong's maiden effort, Legend of the Red Curse. The bad news is that it sinks pretty fast if you compare it to the endless stream of Asian horror pouring out of Japan, Korea, and Thailand, and any of the substandard Hollywood hacks of those that are being regurgitated in English.
The plot utilises the sisterly love relationship. While a lot of people agreed that it had potential, they also think that it could have been done better. Amber has the hefty task of carrying the entire movie because nearly everything revolves around her journey to recover her memory and unravel the mystery behind Li Su's disappearance. The other characters could have been given more to do, rather than exist to give Chai's character someone to interact with.
There are some incredibly well-done scenes that are worth a mention. The part where Chia is harnessed upside down for a possession scene was quite possibly the best thing about the movie, followed by the best ever (and perhaps unintentionally hilarious) line from one of the characters who witnesses the incident. The other scene that I found outstanding is when Amber is being menaced by her stalker with a pair of scissors.
Sarawak is nowhere near there yet, if you want the opinion of someone who went through every Asian horror movie that hit our cinemas between 2003 and 2005. But if the improvement between Red Curse and Possessed is anything to judge by, their next one could finally be something to shout about.
* boleh - derived from the Malaysian catch phrase "Malaysia boleh!" which translates to "Malaysia can!".
Georgette Tan writes for a Malaysian newspaper. She is fond of movies, long walks on the beach and clichés.
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