Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tokak [2013]

Director: Sabree Fadzil
Writer: Isha MJ@Baei
Starring: Faiz Raja Lawak, Abon, Julia Ziegler, Sabree Fadzil... Aw, who cares.
Genre: Nonsense
Rating: General
Verdict: "It's baffling just how bad it is, you'd be inclined to think that Tokak is just a byproduct of a scam..."

A lady screams. The story then rewinds to a lousily-written exposition, along with one out-of-place breaking the fourth wall before it gets back to the smoke-machined resort where a bunch of nothing happens for a while. A P. Ramlee impressionist farts in rapid succession while Abon's character speaks in his exaggerated Javanese accent. The killing starts soon after in the most generic way possible, where no amount tension or horror can be felt. Mr. Farts farts several more times. A pseudo-ustaz comes in because bustin' makes him feel good, and bad CGI ensues. After they killed enough characters, the movie ends. By then, even the production team have no idea what the hell they're doing, so they decide to just flat out spoil it by making the whole story available for people to read.

What to Expect
1. A cheap movie (despite its RM1.5 million price tag)
2. Cheap laughs, cheap horror
3. A somewhat amusing P. Ramlee impressionist (marred by fart jokes)
4. Bad CGI (though I'm pretty lax in this aspect)
5. The Ghostbuster Imam stock character

What NOT to Expect
1. Entertainment
2. Horror
3. Comedy
4. A coherent story
Avoid like the plague
In the off-chance that a member of the production team is reading this review, I must ask that you take what I say in stride. Still, there's a good chance that at least one person's gonna make an enemy out of me. Indeed, from the get go, it sounds like I'm just plain rippin' on this movie. But trust me, my intent is to give Tokak a fair and honest review. By fair, I mean I'll give credit where credit is due. And by honest, I mean I'll curbstomp all the things I don't approve of.

Like so;

P/S: Mamü is not a Neo-Nazi. He has long curly hair. On his head. As in, his cranium.
Now, as I have said many times in the past, I'm not one to nitpick on the technicalities because I don't know that much about them. I'm not one to nitpick on, say... the lenses that they used, the lighting, or even the CGI as long as I can tell what is it that they wanted to portray. Simply put, if it looks like a movie, sounds like a movie and feels like a movie, then it is a movie. I'm easy to please in that sense.

I did the same thing with Tokak; I didn't go out of my way to look for any imperfections. Instead, they all kinda jumped out at me and that's about as much horror as I got out of this horror flick. Nothing to do with anything that happened in the movie, and everything to do with the presentation. Think how a stereotypical gay interior decorator would react upon walking into a pig sty of a house. Kinda like so;

Ahhh! What are you doing?! Those curtains don't go with that couch!!!
And when I said everything, I mean everything.

Sure, a few things about it are decent. I did notice some interesting visuals, and there are quite a number of clever shots (credit goes to the director of photography). But these are in no way considered a redeeming quality, and it doesn't change the fact that Tokak is a pile of turd.

From the get go the poster had me tilting my head to one side, wondering if it was a practical joke. The last time I saw a poster like that was during my days as a TESL student, where the nearest guy with minimal Photoshop skills is entrusted with designing posters for in-campus plays. You know, the graded kind. Why so much fuss over a movie poster? Well generally speaking, a movie poster can tell you a lot about the production, and everything you need to know about Tokak can indeed be summarised by its poster.

And, of course, the CGI...
For starters, despite the RM1.5 million price tag, the cheapness of the movie is reflected in the poster. Before I elaborate, a little bit of background info; Tokak was shot in March 2011 and was probably completed that same year. That's roughly a year and a half on the shelf, but what showed up the other night was a movie that looked like a student project back in the '90s. Heck, KIL was in limbo for roughly the same amount of time yet still came out looking fresher than Nora Danish after a cold shower.

(Although I might change my mind if I ever get to see that)

*ahem* Before I go on, I must stress that "cheap" is not necessarily a derogatory term. But there's really no other way to describe Tokak. As much as I disliked KL Gangster [2011], Hantu Bonceng [2011], or Mael Lambong [2012], at the very least they resembled a movie, and there was at least a story there being told. I can say with almost no exaggeration that Tokak was all about whatever they can shove in there.

Oh God, did I just use Hantu Bonceng as a positive example?

I guess that's what you'll get when the key person behind the production is all about the business part of "show business". They weren't kidding when they labelled this movie as a horror-comedy-mystery hybrid. Sure, the result was messier than Frankenstein's monster's abortion, but the intent was clear; they didn't set out to tell a story nor did they care for any kind of artistic integrity at all.

Tokak was made based on the popularity of horror movies here, and since they didn't want alienate that other huge demographic, they decided to shove comedy in there too. Of course, I'm using "comedy" in the loosest sense of the word; Tokak's humour was just plain dumb, and the moment I heard that cartoon fart sound, I knew that the movie was possessed by something no shaman in the world can exorcise.

But wait, there's less!

To disguise the fact that Tokak have nothing to contribute to the industry (or even society) whatsoever, they shoved in the strangely-popular stock character - something I like to call the Ghostbuster Imam - in there too, in order to provide "heart" or "moral values". From then on, everything played out like a less-fun episode of Power Rangers.

I don't know about you, but I've always had a bit of a discomfort when Islam gets this kind of superficial treatment. I don't quite know how to describe it, but it's a little disconcerting at least for me to see such a rich, philosophical, cerebral and all-encompassing religion reduced to just a solution to your ghost problems.

Of course, that's not their intent, nor was it a statement that they'd like to make. Tokak has neither credibility nor integrity to speak of, and the inclusion of the Ghostbuster Imam was just meant to appeal to the more pious demographic. With little thought going into it too, if I may add. And while we're on the subject, can we just retire this Ghostbuster Imam character, please? I don't think I can stand the sight of another dude in serban pull off a syariah-compliant hadouken.

By the time the credits started to roll, I wondered why the movie got made at all (as I hurriedly left the cinema). Granted, the premise was kiiind of promising. But the movie as a whole was just horrid. Even for someone from the demographic they're going for, I'd like to think that Tokak's gonna feel like a bunch of things they've seen before gathered in one movie.


lily said...

LOL! I think your review of the movie could be even funnier than the movie itself..keep on blogging! I love reading your writings on movies!

Mamü Miguel Ellezda Vies said...

Hey, thank you so much!

And yeah, about Tokak, ripping on it was about as much fun as I got out of it. I guess you can say that's a saving grace?

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