Let’s just put it out there: I’m a coward when it comes to horror films.
I could never sit through a scary movie without closing my eyes and/or ears. Said reactions would highly depend on whether the sight or sound is more frightening at that point of time.
If I’m unlucky, I would be jumping from my seat a few times throughout the movie.
Before you continue reading, don’t judge me. Horror films are not my thing.
If you’re not a horror fan, we’re probably from the same breed; if you are, why aren’t you a brave human being?
Having said that, my editor thought it was a wise idea to send me for an early screening of the latest local horror offering, 'Misteri Dilaila'
Needless to say, I tried to escape. I came up with every single way to get out of this assignment. But his “threats” won.
So, after about one and a half hours of scare, here I am. This is a non-horror fan’s guide to enduring 'Misteri Dilaila'.
The film tells the story of Jefri (Zul Ariffin) and his wife Dilaila (Elizabeth Tan) on a holiday at their vacation home in Fraser’s Hill. The holiday quickly turns into a nightmare for the couple.
After a heated quarrel between the husband and wife, Jefri finds his wife missing without a trace the next morning. Jefri desperately searches for her all over but to no avail.
Later that night, a mysterious woman shows up at his doorstep claiming to be his wife. Despite looking like she could pass off as his wife’s sister, this Dilaila (Sasqia Dahuri) is not the real deal.
As if having a missing wife is not stressful enough, Jefri also starts experiencing strange supernatural incidents in the house.
Without giving away too much of the story, here are a few things about 'Misteri Dilaila'
from a non-horror fan’s mind.
The title itself is already a huge indicator of what you will get from this film. So much so that it is even categorised as a mystery thriller.
When an entire human being disappears from existence leaving absolutely no trace behind, it calls for questions. Where did Dilaila go? Who is this new Dilaila? Where did the ghosts come from? Did Dilaila turn into a ghost? Who is telling the truth? Are ghosts real? What’s in Fraser’s Hill?
You’ll get answers to some of those questions, if not all, by the end of the movie.
At least those were the questions I was asking myself right through to the last second. I even talked to myself at some point.
The director Syafiq Yusof himself admitted that he is playing mind games with the audience with 'Misteri Dilaila'.
The movie is practically fueled by plot twists and I found myself screaming “HUH?!” in my head countless times, especially when other characters like Imam Aziz, played by Namron, was introduced.
Syafiq deliberately tells the story in a non-linear timeline and there are moments in the film that will not make sense to you.
But the key is to just be patient and endure it until the end. That’s what I tried to do.
It really makes you think because it is not just a silly horror movie that tries to frighten you at every opportunity.
Don’t even get me started on the jumpscares. As a scaredy cat, one of the elements I was not looking forward to see was exactly that.
You can’t blame me for jumping in my seat because I was sitting right next to the speakers, so these unwanted surprises came extra louder for me.
All I can say is that you must play very close attention throughout the movie. Close your ears if you have to in case you need to soften the blow.
Although I didn’t appreciate the scare tactics, I could still sleep peacefully that night, fortunately. Did I just become braver after watching 'Misteri Dilaila'?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so.
As seen in the trailer, this film comes with quite a lot of blood, mainly when ghosts are involved.
Now, that’s another thing I hate to see in movies: bloody faces, blood splats, blood squirts, blood gushing out from the head (cue gag reflex).
So, what did I do? I closed my eyes. And apparently, I didn’t close them long enough because I saw all the red!
To all my fellow non-horror fans out there, brace yourselves.
The only way for me to endure a horror story like this is to focus on the actors, or better yet, focus on their acting skills. Turn into a film critic if you have to and save yourself from getting nightmares.
Paying close attention to every word spoken, expression and movement, I must applaud Elizabeth and Sasqia for playing the two Dilailas so well. They were essentially the root of the movie’s mysterious factor and it worked out quite well.
Zul is already one of the most popular male actors in Malaysia, so his talents need no further elaboration.
So, if you think you’re too much of a coward for horror films, just remember this: It’s all make-believe. Focus on the acting, the costumes and the fake blood if you have to.
Overall, I suggest to not take 'Misteri Dilaila'
too seriously. If you do, you may not enjoy what the movie is trying to offer, which is pure entertainment.
You may leave the cinema asking yourself, “What on earth did I just watch?” Nevertheless, we highly recommend seeing it in the cinema to experience the full effect.
Oh, and for scaredy-cats like me, bring your friends and family along!
'Misteri Dilaila' opens in cinemas nationwide today (21 February).