Time for another trip to Malaysia for this wee Catgirl as we take a peek this time out at yet another Malay vampire horror offering, “Paku: Bila Cinta Menjadi Seram”. In this one we get tragically doomed romance… shamanism and black magic… and a much more scary look at their local vampire, the Pontianak than our last few Malay films have given us. Always a good thing in this lady’s book… 😉
The synopsis goes like this: “Loving young couple, Fahmi and Raina seem to have it all. A tender romantic life together and a cute daughter they both love. Tragically, disaster strikes while Raina is pregnant with their second child and she gets crushed to death inside their car during the disastrous collapse of their apartment building one fateful day. Unable to live without her, Fahmi does the most desperate thing he could think of, to try and bring her back to life with the help of a shaman in violation of all the laws of Allah that they might be together. But… Raina is not a human anymore… now she is a blood hungry Pontianak… and only Evil can come from her continued existence in the Mortal world.”
Yep. Definitely sounds like my kind of movie. Think it might also be yours, Gentle Visitor? Wanna know more about the creepy goings-on? Then, by goodness, you know what comes next… 😉
This one is a minor little film, and one I almost missed picking up when it became available in Malaysia. You see, there was another recent Malay horror film also titled “Paku” that came out on DVD just a wee bit ago, and sadly… it was one of the one that made an appearance without the usual English subtitles most Malay DVD’s have. Given that… I almost passed this one up, only figuring out it was an entirely different film while trying in vain to hunt down subtitles to that first one. Luckily… I say almost…
This version of “Paku” came to me along with a few other recent Malay discs and was…. surprisingly… hard subbed into English. Hard subbed? Yep, I kid you not. It’s the way some of these from Malay DVD distributor, Golden Satellite Distribution, seem to come. Weird…. given that they were never really intended for export outside of Malaysia, but instead produced for domestic audiences that should only need the Malay audio track and I would think would find those un-removeable subtitles in a foreign language just downright annoying. But what the heck do I know…. maybe there’s a sizable chunk of Malays that don’t speak Malaysian. (Pssst! Gentle Visitors… feel free to educate a curious kitten on this subject. C’mon… chime in and let me know!! 😉 )
Anyhoo… this one gets going as we get introduced to Fahmi and Raina (played by Johan Asari and Aisha Ilias respectively), a young couple who are locked in the throws of loving bliss with a sweet little daughter and another child on the way. They seem to have it all… Until tragedy strikes and shatters that happy existence forever.
One day… with the help of some CGI effects… their apartment building suffers a catastrophic collapse while they are just outside in their car. Fahmi manages to escape and save his daughter Sophie just in the nick of time… but poor Raina gets trapped by a sticky seat-belt and is crushed along with the car right before their horrified eyes.
She dies at hospital and Fahmi goes to pieces. Despite his wise old father’s assurances that all things are part of Allah’s plan… that Raina will be at her reward in Heaven, Fahmi can’t let her go. His obsession traps her spirit between worlds and pretty soon it isn’t long before he’s dead set on bringing her back from beyond the grave so they can go back to their happy marriage together once more. Ummm…. yeah…. somehow you just know that’s not gonna go well.
Eventually he isolates himself from his traumatized daughter, sending her to live with his parents while he works his grief out… but in reality, he just wants the secrecy to work with a shaman guy to effect Raina’s return. Yep… this guy is more than willing to use the powers of Black Sorcery to first let Fahmi chat with the spirit of his wife by enticing her to possess the body of his best buddy… all the while making the surprising attempt to tell Fahmi just how wrong and evil all this stuff is. Yep… he’s a pretty strange practitioner of the Dark Arts, alright. Naturally Fahmi still can’t let it all go, so of course that leads the shaman to decide that to make everything work for Fahmi, they’ll need to dig up Raina’s corpse, pound a big ol’ coffin nail through the top of her head, sacrifice her lil’ pet bunny rabbit, and transform her into a Pontianak. Yep… that oughta fix things.
Mind you… our shaman still keeps telling Fahmi that this is about the most evil thing he could do to be with Raina, so I can’t really figure out why he did it, being so darn dead set against such evil stuff. Must be a “Black Sorcerers Union” rule or something…. Oh well… at least now we’re gonna get some vampire action. 😉
By day… Raina seems all normal and pretty and loving…. the perfect wife he remembers. But… once night falls, Raina gets…. well… all freaky. She starts prowling the night, hunting down her loving hubby’s enemies from work… the ones so darn pissed that Fahmi seems to have become his company’s “golden boy” practically overnight. Little do they dream it’s all because of some supernatural rule that says the master of a Pontianak becomes lucky in all his business dealings. Stupidly… they enlist their own evil shaman to slap some witchcraft curse on Fahmi, only to have vampire Raina swoop in and whack their shaman and send his curse after them instead. Yep Karma’s a bitch…. Too bad Fahmi’s also gonna have to pay for his own bad Karma before everything is over and done.
This is… unfortunately the part of the film that is at it’s weakest. I mean… who did Fahmi think he was gonna fool when he just starts living his life again with the wife everybody knows died horribly in that apartment collapse? There’s some goofy plot stuff where Fahmi sticks a wig on Raina and insists to people that this new Raina isn’t that Raina. That they don’t look that much alike… but all that stuff is pretty darn stupid and shouldn’t have fooled anybody. I mean what the heck did he think he was going to tell his parents… or his daughter for that matter… when they dropped by to see how he was coping. About the only people it does seem to fool are the idiots at his office, and I’m here to tell you, they had to be pretty thick for that to happen. Oh well… let’s not let a little thing like common sense get in the way of our vampire fun….. 😉
OK, OK… now having a bloodthirsty vampire bride has to eventually bite you in the ass (No pun intended…. Ok… maybe a little pun intended… 😉 ) and as our film reaches it’s climax, Raina starts having problems maintaining her pretense of being human. She gives birth to their child…. which sorta freaks the shaman guy out a bit given she’s a dead woman after all… and so they employ a nanny to help with things. Yep… you guessed it. The nanny starts figuring out not all is kosher with her new mistress and pretty soon all heck breaks loose. Shaman guy makes his dramatic appearance… tells Fahmi that Raina is a tortured soul and that he must agree to send her spirit to Hell to end the horror he has unleashed. Yep… it’s too late for that and vampire Raina goes all crazy ass on him before he can work the appropriate spell to end things. Awww crap, right?
Luckily for us, Fahmi’s dad seems to be somewhat more than just a very moral old guy. He’s got some Holy scriptures that let him open a big ol’ crack to Hell so that Raina can be sucked down along with the demon baby to eternal damnation saving Fahmi and Sophie just in the nick of time.
Yep. That’s pretty much it. Not the most satisfying ending, but at least it neatly sews up our somewhat spurious plot all in around 90 minutes.
So what’s the overall verdict? Well… “Paku” honestly isn’t the most coherent or sensible story I’ve seen out of Malaysia and some of it required your Favorite Catgirl to dial up her personal “Suspension of Disbelief” meter to seriously questionable levels with only dubious success at best. Still… I did enjoy the romantic stuff between our leads Johan Asari and Aisha Ilias. They make a cute couple. They just really do, and maybe it’s my own need to go all soft and gooshy about romance and love of late, but for me this part of the film worked. The effects weren’t bad either… and have to say it was certainly nice to get a Malay Pontianak film that didn’t treat it’s monster as fodder for comedy for once. That leaves me feeling perhaps a bit more generous than I might otherwise be.
With that I can let this one squeak from 2 to 3 “Meows” out of 5. Not a great film, certainly flawed in some very basic ways, but better than many I’ve seen out of Malaysia of late. The DVD? Disappointingly hard subbed into English as I’ve mentioned, but hey… at least it’s subtitled at all, unlike that other “Paku” film I mistook this one for initially. On the plus side… it’s a cheap one for movie nite at right around 8-9$ US and as always… that’s greatly appreciated here at “La Casa De Neko”…. But… in reality it’s probably not a disc I’d expect many of you Gentle Visitors to want to rush right out and grab a copy of. That’s just how it is…. 🙂
What’s that? The Trailer, you ask? But of course!! 😉