Saturday, April 30, 2011

Histeria (2008)

This is, what I know, the first Malaysian horror movie I’ve seen. Some people claim it’s the first Malaysian horror movie, but I’m not sure that’s correct. Often, even in the most conservative countries, there are movies you do not expect to exist. But what do I know, I’m just a simple country boy from Sweden. Director James Lee got a choice from the producer to make a genre movie. Action was too expensive, and it all ended with Histeria, a horror movie that might not bring something new to the world but still is quite entertaining.

Location: an all-girl school where a prank goes terribly wrong. It doesn’t lead to a knife-wielding maniac taking revenge on the girls or a vengeful ghost killing them one by one. Instead they remove some holy object from an ant hill and up crawls a god damn monster with sharp teeth and hunger for human flesh! The holy object (some bones or something) is placed there by the gardener to protect the school and girls (and of course, because he’s weird, everyone think he’s really a pervert!). It won’t take long until the few girls left at school are hunted down by the monster, and what’s there not to like about that?

Histeria both fails and succeeds in creating a good story. The good thing is that it’s very well-made with excellent directing and cinematography. No fancy schmancy editing or weird colour-scales, this is very competent filmmaking in the old school of storytelling. What’s both the blessing and curse of the movie is the build-up. The director obviously wanted to make a movie with real characters and slowly tells the story of the relationships and intrigues at the school. It’s not until like 45 minutes into the movie we’re treated to the first sight of the monster and some blood. Usually I don’t mind this, because if it’s well-made it’s worth the time getting to the juicy stuff. The problem here is that it’s hard to tell the girls from each other. They look the same and with the uniforms they are more or less impossible to tell apart.

But when the horror kicks in, it gets better. The monster is awesome. A dark figure, humanoid, with insect-like face and big sharp teeth! He/she goes for the throat and – I’ve changed my mind here – even if it’s not GORY, I would say it is at least very BLOODY. Not that there aren’t any graphic shots – there are, and they are very nice, but most of the attacks are violent, bloody and juicy. But it would have been nice with some nice gore.

Histeria is an odd movie. It feels like something that was planned to be a typical slasher at first, or maybe a one of those boring Asian ghost-movies, but the monster-twist is a surprise and makes the movie so much more fun. It’s out on Sweden on a nice DVD, only with Scandinavian subtitles. But it’s recommended viewing for fans of neo-horror from Asian countries.

1 comment:

Jack J said...

Don't believe the hype, Fred. If some people claim this is the first Malaysian horror they must be from the advertising company trying to sell this DVD, haha. There's been made horror movies in Malaysia for many years and they continue to do so. They made OILY MANIAC movies already in the 1950s.

For more on NEW Malay horror movies check this collection: