I just came back from watching Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam and OMG it's FANTASTIC. I can't remember the last time I've been so engrossed in a local Malaysian production ( not counting Kehidupan Seorang Pramugara Yang Terlampau and that Datin home video *cough* ). The haunting song, the pretty decent acting, the story... maybe I've been watching too many mindless slasher flicks, but this movie, I like.
But what is there to like, detractors of the local film industry might ask? Quite a few people thought I had lost my marbles when I told them I was planning to watch this movie.
"You want to watch a Malay movie? Come on!"
"But it's a pontianak movie!"
As you can see, not many people I know have faith in local productions. Me, I'm game as long as we have hideously beautiful women flying around. Cause deadly long fingernails, long hair and the ability to levitate? I've always found that fascinating in a girl. Anyway, following do find a list of points I feel strongly about regarding the movie.
1. Maya Karin
Hotness. I prefer her looking lost and innocent ( second half of the film ) as opposed to her having that primadonna look ( first half of the film ). Not that it really matters. I'll do her even when she's in pontianak mode, with blood running down from her eyes et al. This is why I always advise my guy friends to have a nail and a hammer handy at all times. You never know when a pontianak looking like Maya Karin is going to swoop down on you and attempt to gut you. Sidestep that lethal lunge, grapple that supernatural hottie to the floor, pound that nail into the back of her head and make her your bitch. Or you could pound the nail into the back of her head last after you've made her your bitch ( to, you know, make her your bitch for life ). I imagine it's quite an experience, making it with a pontianak while she's still in pontianak mode. You know what? Let's just toss the nails and the hammer away. Instead, knock her out with something heavy ( like say, a wrench or a laptop ) and then chain her to your basement for future make-her-your-bitch fun. There's nothing like your personal pontianak sex slave.
2. The Haunting Song
Which is still stuck in my head. Ow. It's... it's beautiful. There's something really eerie and sexy about the tune, sorta like the soundtrack of the Mask of Zorro meets the soundtrack of the Mummy meets traditional Arabian music. It helps that beatiful Maya Karin was humming / singing it a lot in the movie. I think the song will fit in rather well with a fast-paced Mexican motif. Damn my lack of musical talent! It would have been fun turning it into a polyphonic tone for my T720.
3. The Story
Some people might find it slow. Too slow. There're entire scenes filled with just dancing. But since it's Maya Karin doing the gamelan, it's pretty engrossing. I don't know how this movie will hold up during future rewatches, but for a first watch, things didn't get too slow for me. Plotwise, I think it could have been better. Maybe a few more deaths and a little more bloodshed. Instead of expanding more on the pontianak mythos, they went the way of the drama and the people-oriented plot. Not a bad thing, but just something I wished was done differently. The pontianak just didn't get enough screen time!
4. The Acting / Direction
IMHO not one of the stronger points of the movie. I feel that they tried too hard to make things obvious. That Marsani character was really annoying in the 1947 segment of the film. Kudos to Maya Karin for her portrayal of standoffish Meriam and innocent Maria. And I really liked that Danial character - he was likeable from the start. If I were a primadonna, I would marry him too.
5. This is a Pontianak Movie
Americans have Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Malaysians have pontianaks. I grew up reading stories of those American and European bloodsuckers ("I am... Drakula."), but I also grew up listening to my grandmother and my grandaunty telling me stories about pontianaks. So pontianak movie? A must-watch for me.
6. This Is A Malaysian Production
It's not often I feel proud to be a Malaysian. In fact, I haven't felt proud of my nationality in a long time. But as the credits rolled, there was much pride as I thought, "Man, we did that." I mean, I'm proud to be Malaysian because we have excellent roti canai along Transfer Road, but that just isn't on the same level as this. This is like, transcendent, man. I think it's a good sign that the censorship board let this one get screened. Here's hoping that Malaysian films are finally heading towards a more enlightened ( and less religiously constipated ) age.
Should YOU watch Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam? If you like beautiful women ( Maya Karin ), pontianaks ( flying Maya Karin ), a decent storyline ( which involves Maya Karin ), haunting music ( Maya Karin doing the gamelan and Maya Karin singing ) and would like to see what Malaysia is up to now that America is delivering to us that paedophile fantasy Harry Potter ( Emma Watson... MMMMM ), why not?
Website: Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam
By the way, my colleague informed me that 'sundal' is actually a very not-nice thing to call a lady. So now, whenever a lady driver crosses me wrong on the roads, I yell "Sundal!!!" and wave my clenched fist at them animatedly. If anything, 'sundal' is so much faster to spit out vehemently than "you c***-******* b****!". And so much more Malaysian too.