Saturday, October 8, 2011

FIXI #7: Ngeri

Well, if there's anything I could say to summarise what Ngeri is all about, it would be that it embraces the spirit of a pulp novel. That didn't occur to me for a while as I am more inclined to really 'get into' stories that are very much character-driven. So I was missing the point half the time I was reading it. But even when I did get into it, I must say I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Sure, Ngeri was quite a page-turner, I finished it in two sittings, one of which was on a bathroom break.

But for the most part it was only because I just wanted to get it over with.

Don't get me wrong, though. It's not all bad. It calls to mind Horror/Thriller movies like Saw [2004], which by the way was the only Saw movie worth watching, the rest took the thriller part out of the franchise and opted for the torture porn route instead. In fact, I think it may have been an inspiration since Malaysian-born director James Wan was mentioned by name in the novel. So if you're a fan, I think you're going to like Ngeri as well.

James Wan with Saw screenwriter Leigh Whannell...
Ngeri tells the tale of three film school students, Samuel, Joanne and Rehan. Early in their semester, the trio struggled a number of times to come up with a film script, none of which were approved by their professor. The frustration kept piling up, prompting Samuel to take issue with a burger stall operator. But from that, he came up with the idea of a horror movie where the operator would return home, only to find that his child brutally murdered. Tragedy ensued after the murder began to play out for real, in a horrible case of life imitating art.

I would say that the highlights of the story were the sick and shocking nature of the murders, although I think the author could have done just a little bit more to make it... grislier. Or maybe give a richer description of the crime scenes. But of course, this is just a matter of personal preference. Perhaps what Ngeri could have really used was a little bit more of a cat-and-mouse game, something to add to the tension.

Because the way things ended, I imagined it must be what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a premature ejaculation. Perhaps the author could have put more of her own flavour into the story instead of just making homages or including pop-culture references (There even was a Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah reference). Which is too bad, because it could have been more compelling, but I ended up reading what appeared to be the very basis of the story passed as a full-length novel.

But hey, these are just my two cents, and I certainly didn't mean for this entry to sound mean-spirited. I am very well-aware that the rest of the FIXI novels had been a tough act to follow. So who knows, maybe author Gina was just testing the waters and the best is yet to come.

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