I know it’s been a while… but yes…. I’m still very much alive, Gentle Visitors, and so I guess it’s time to put my sadness behind me and just move forward… and that means it’s also time for another “Nekolishous” review for you all to help shake out the last of my lingering blues.
This time…. it’s all about a movie I’ve been trying hard to find for quite some time. You see…. every once in a while, your Favorite Catgirl manages to snag a long searched for treasure… A film that somehow resists my every effort to track down despite my sometimes obsessive (and some might say crazy) efforts to make it my own. Occasionally it’s simply finding the DVD itself… (maybe forcing me to settle for a VCD or even a brittle old VHS tape just to see it at last) and other times it’s the subtitles which vex and elude me (And we all know how cranky THAT can make me, Hehehehe!!), but then there are those rare and inexplicable times the entire film seems to just drop right off the edge of the planet itself never seeming to come to light despite my best efforts to unearth it. When I finally find one of these, it’s always a thing to celebrate, and, as luck would have it, this time out my ceaseless efforts have brought me a copy of the 2006 Malay horror film “Susuk”. At last!! Just about when I’d about given up hope of ever encountering it….
Synopsis? Well here it goes: “Beauty & Fame has a price. Soraya is a young trainee nurse who is starting to feel dissatisfied by her mediocre and unremarkable life. A chance introduction to the world of glamour piques her earlier ambition to be a star. She does not succeed at first. But then she is told the forbidden practice of Susuk can help. She has to make a choice then whether to remain the way she is or cross the line into forbidden sins to realize her dreams.”
Naturally… as soon as it arrived in my mailbox, I just had to give it a watch and share my impressions with all you here at the ol’ Litterbox, o’ Gentle Visitors. As always, such a find carries with it certain expectations…. and this time is no different. But will I luck out and score a true gem, or be disappointed by a film that just doesn’t reach for those lofty levels of horror goodness?
Only one real way to find out… and that’s right, time to give it a look, so what are you waitin’ for? It’s time to “Read On!”
So…. exactly just what the heck is “The forbidden practice of Susuk” anyway, and why is it so scary? Well… looking it up on the internet tells me that it’s some sort of Traditional Witchcraft or Sorcery practiced on the Malay peninsula… and “involves the forbidden practice of inserting and embedding foreign objects such as gold, silver, and diamonds under a person’s skin in order to increase the person’s allure”…. Mmmmm? OK then? But what’s the scary part? Apparently it’s the idea that it’s a no-no to practice Sorcery in Islamic Malaysia and you are just asking to go to Hell if you involve yourself with it at all. Well…. that and you might change into some sort of demonic monster thirsting for human blood. Yep…. now that’s starting to sound promising!!
Our movie takes that idea and runs with it, giving us a character in Soraya (played by Diana Rafar) who seems to have it all… a promising career as a student nurse, a loving boyfriend named Kamal (played by Gambit Saifullah) and good friends to keep her centered and happy. So what’s wrong with her life? Mostly a stupid longing to throw away all that for a chance at the glamorous and exciting life of a Singing Idol. Mostly our film uses it’s time to give us in the audience a Moral lesson that displays this sort of wasted desire as a hollow goal with no real value beyond the loss of one’s true self. It’s preachy…. and that usually is somewhat of a turn off for this lil’ Catgirl but at least they do it with a nice plot seasoning of murder and cannibalism to tie it all together.
I wish I could say I liked the character of Soraya…. but unfortunately she’s pretty darn shallow and far too self absorbed to be sympathetic for a main heroine. Most of the other singing divas in our story, like Susana (Ida Nerina) , Rozana (Aleeza Kassim), and Mona (Sofia Jane) all come across as pretty and talented, but also insufferably vain and conceited, interested totally in only what rewards Fame can bring them regardless of the cost to others. Thankfully, once our story finally gets going, and Susana goes all flesh eating crazy by breaking her particular Susuk’s taboo, they don’t last very long before receiving their just deserts.
This lack of a character you can root for could all be forgiven if the story just moved along in a direction that lent itself to making some overall sense…. but unfortunately…. it doesn’t. There’s a twist ending that comes at you right out of left field just when you think you have this one figured out. I’m not telling you what it is, but it makes for a somewhat confusing and unsatisfying ending overall.
So…. what sort of rating can I give “Susuk”? Well…. after my years of searching, I must admit it didn’t turn out to be the equal of “Chermin”, my overall favorite Malay horror effort or even the workman-like yet enjoyable “Santau”either. I suppose it’s nice production values, good special effects (by Malay standards) , and competent acting are worth something, so Your Favorite Catgirl can still give it a grudging 3 “Meows” out of 5… but just barely. D’ohh!!
The Malay DVD from Dragon Jester Entertainment is satisfactory, with a wide-screen Region Free presentation and acceptable English subtitles. I managed to snag my copy at a ridiculously low price too…. although since it was this hard to find for me, you won’t necessarily be as lucky should you want to see it as well. However…. I definitely wouldn’t log the long hours hunting it down that I did…. Unfortunately, it’s just not that good a film that missing it would be unforgivable or anything. Still…. if a more readily accessible HK DVD version were ever to pop up, and you want to see a different sort of Black Magic tradition, then it might just be worth a look for an evenings movie watchin’ fun.
Trailer? Yep…. Trust me,that was waaaaay easier to find than the DVD itself, and here it goes! Enjoy!