Friday, January 13, 2017

Thoughts on KL24: Zombies

So yesterday I watched a Malaysian-made movie called KL24: Zombies. It's only available on Youtube, so if you want to know what I'm talking about, you can click here to watch it before reading any further. You can also continue reading if you don't feel like sitting through an hour and 16 minutes of whatever that movie was and don't mind spoilers.

The movie's basically about a set of related people (some loosely, some not so loosely) who find themselves in the middle of Kuala Lumpur during a virus outbreak. The virus turns people into zombies, and this set of people have to deal with their immediate situations however they see fit. In the end, one of the lead roles (played by Sharifah Amani) finds a cure through a chance encounter with a scientist (who gets killed) and gets rescued by a military helicopter.

I didn't enjoy the movie, for the most part. Straight out of the gate, the acting was really poor, and the writing was almost as poor (which might sound like a compliment, but really isn't). The actors looked like they rehearsed close to zero times (and hey, maybe that's what really happened) and all the feelings and dialogue felt contrived and delivered with the bare minimum of acting required to make it on (a Youtube) screen. Sharifah Amani sure has chops, and she showed some flashes of it here and there, but overall I got the feeling that she wasn't really sold on what she was doing as an actor and thus couldn't deliver her lines with sincerity (or at least something that resembled sincerity, for that matter).

Because it was a made-for-Youtube movie, the thing did not have to go through any national-level screenings, so they were free to disregard any boundaries and limitations that might have been set by the censorship board. The film-makers took advantage of this and maximised their usage of f-bombs and other bleep-worthy words even early on in the film, to the extent that it felt, again, contrived and insincere. Like they were doing it just because they could, instead of making each swear-word count.

I only appreciated one part of the movie, which was the part when Fatimah Abu Bakar was involved. I like that they explored the dynamics of a polygamous marriage, asking questions as to why a man would want to marry multiple wives, and why any woman would enter such a marriage. Fatimah Abu Bakar's performance was easily the best in the film as she played the role of "the old, cynical wife" so convincingly and with such nuance that it was a joy to be able to witness. Apart from a couple of cringe-worthy lines here and there, the writing in this particular section of the movie stood out as being a lot better than the rest of the film. I honestly would have liked the film a whole lot better if it was a short-film involving this section and this section alone. They would have saved so much money and end up with an immensely better piece of work as a whole.

I commend the production for being brave in making this movie. A lot of socio-political critique was going on in the movie, but they didn't overdo it, so thank you for not being preachy about it. It's just that I felt that, for the most part, the movie was a first-draft, something that was made to be re-written and rehearsed better to get some inconsistencies in check before shooting it and putting it out there.

Here's to better local movies in the future.

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