Thursday, December 19, 2013

Paku [2013]

Director: P. Ramesh
Writers: Alexander (original story), Shahriza Mahmud (adapted by)
Starring: Johan As'ari, Aishah Ilias, Wan Hanafi Su, Zaidi Omar, Azad Jazmin
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Rating: Teen
Verdict: "Should have been lost in the rubble as well..."

Fahmi (Johan As'ari) and Rania (Aishah Ilias) seem to have it all. However, disaster strikes when Rania is pregnant with their second child; their apartment building collapses just when she forgets how seatbelts work and gets crushed to death inside their car. Unable to live a single day without her, he does the most logical thing he could think of, which is to try and bring her back to life with the help of a shaman, and a best friend who has no sense of self-preservation. Then other stuff happens.

What to Expect
1. Barely an unintentional comedy
2. Not scarrier [sic] than The Conjuring
3. Also, not a better love story than Twilight
4. Commendable production value
5. Waste of talents
6. Magic Indonesians
7. Godawful subtitles

What NOT to Expect
1. Actual comedy or horror
In many ways, Paku feels like a big "pak-u" to the audience. I've already had a bad feeling when I saw the tagline which read, "Bila cinta menjadi seram." It didn't raise any alarm, since I went into it with information that actual work went into the making of the film. For instance, they cared enough to make the car scene look convincing. Because I've already set the bar so low, even that made me give it a nod of approval.

Not asking for much here. Just have the story make sense, and to not use supernatural elements to get away with sloppy writing. Spoilers; they did. You folks could really learn a thing or two from Sembunyi [2013].

All right, Paku. So where should we begin? I'm gonna forgo any talk about technicalities, even though the flaws in that department were apparent enough even to me who doesn't know - or care - much about 'em as an audience. I mean, c'mon, a flat screen TV in 1993? However, I can't say that the film was lazily made. More on this in a minute.

Tonally, it was confusing as to what the movie wants to be. Which is too bad, because they had some memorable scenes - not to mention they got away with a lot of things that'd usually make LPF perform mandi wajib.

The said scenes could have been neat had I cared about the big picture. You see, despite the director's purported filmography, Paku didn't feel like it was handled by someone with a lot of experience. I'm not suggesting that he padded his resume, I'm just talking about the film here. Paku is supposedly a horror film with a strong romantic element, but it fell short on both.

Not to mention that the story was equally confusing. Not difficult to follow, in fact it was pretty straightforward. The problem lied mostly with character development. Granted, it's a horror movie, so there's no problem with having two-dimensional characters. They're just there to have things happen to them. Still, one thing you should never skimp out on ever is what the character knows and their role in the story.

For example, the character Fahmi was the culprit who brought Rania back to life, but he also spent a bulk of the movie seemingly unaware of ever having done that, and for the life of him couldn't figure out why everything's going haywire around him. I know, it didn't make sense to me either.

Then there was the best friend whose name I can't recall right now. Oh God, the best friend. I remember this being the moment where I got catapulted out of the movie-watching experience, and I refused to play along any more. And I know it wasn't just me, because the whole cinema erupted with laughter seeing the best friend so willing to get possessed by a dead woman's spirit as a favour, like he was helping our protagonist change a tyre or something.

Mind you, it came complete with the throwaway line, "What's a spirit or two compared to what you've done for me?" though naturally, we never got to know exactly what has Fahmi done for the friend to deserve such devotion.

Too bad, really, because Paku did a couple of things right. They had good talents, though as with any film starring Johan As'ari that I've seen so far, he was the weakest link in my eyes. Some talents were painfully underutilised - Pekin Ibrahim in particular, who obviously was just there to make it easier for the marketing department. Then there was Azad Jazmin whom I really like as an actor, so I'm just gonna forget that he was ever in this nonsense.

There were other things too that would make it unfair to say that Paku was lazily made. Some good directions here and there, wardrobe was fine, and the world they presented to us - despite some anachronisms - looked lived in, so it's all right. However, these were in no way considered a saving grace, and I would only recommend Paku for people who think that all in the world is hunky dory, and wish to be proven wrong.

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