Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah
I may have been too hard on Mamat Khalid. Baru selepas saya publish-kan rebiu Estet yang menghentamnya dengan agak kaw, saya terbaca his defence of his controversial remarks regarding the winners of Festival Filem Malaysia ke-23, in which he supposedly tak puas hati sebab his movie kalah kepada Magika. It seems what he was really tak puas hati about was the overall quality of the judging - which, yeah, it sucks. (Momok the Movie Filem Terbaik?? Ptui!) As does the quality of local entertainment news reporting, incidentally; I wouldn't be too surprised if he was quoted out of context just to hebohkan the skandal. It didn't make me like Estet any more, but it did make me more willing to give a chance to a director whose films I've only seen one of, but is widely regarded as one of our better filmmakers.
Which, yeah, he is. But possibly not for me.
Hussin (Awie) returns to his hometown of Kampung Pisang to find it much changed. He is greeted by his friends Abi Hurairah (Johan Raja Lawak) and Usop (Shy8), but the latter is now a paraplegic; his attempts to rekindle his romance with the lovely Che' Nin (Ummi Nazeera) is stymied by her disapproving father Pak Jabit (Man Kadir); and his next-door neighbour Kak Limah (Delimawati) has been behaving strangely and looking somewhat ghostly. When they decide to pay Kak Limah a visit along with village headman Pak Abu (Zami Ismail), what they find there leads them to believe that Kak Limah is dead, and that her restless spirit now haunts the village. They seek the help of bomohs - first the Indonesian Wak Joko (Soffi Jikan), then Chomprak (Kamarul Hj Yusof) from Thailand - but to no avail, and all the while Kak Limah continues to wreak havoc in Kampung Pisang. And then there is Ayu (Avaa Vanja), who has her eye on Hussin for reasons unknown.
Ini adalah sebuah komedi kampung. Ianya mengisahkan orang kampung, ditujukan kepada orang kampung, dan dibikin oleh pengarah dan penulis lakonlayar yang obviously arif tentang masyarakat orang kampung. So this is gonna be a hard review for this budak Cina KL film critic to write. Not only is it made for a very different demographic than mine, everyone speaks in a thick logghhat Peggghhhak - and on top of that, the sound mix for the dialogue is strangely too soft, I dunno if it was just the cinema I was in or what. Also, it is a loose sequel to Mamat's 2007 film Zombi Kampung Pisang, which I haven't seen and therefore can't tell how loose it is. But what I can tell is, for a komedi kampung, this is probably one of the best of its kind. There's a confidence and assuredness to the entire production, from the cast who all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, to Mamat's direction that gets the horror-comedy combination just right.
The cast does something I rarely see in Malay films, which is that setiap pelakon memainkan watak yang mempunyai peranan dan karakter yang berlainan. They all play broad, exaggerated comedic roles - some a lot more broad than others - but they all serve their own respective purposes, in the tradition of a good ensemble farce. The standout is Shy8 (a.k.a. Syed Mohamad Asri, and don't get me started on stupid Malay celebrity names), whose Usop is a lot of fun and proves that a "lembut" character doesn't have to be as one-note and annoying as, say, Cat Farish in Cuti-Cuti Cinta. I am not familiar with Awie's storied cinematic reputation, but he's quite good as Hussin - who, despite being the prodigal anak kampung who came home riding a Harley, is only slightly less dimwitted than the rest of this bunch. And then Soffi Jikan shows up, whose gloriously nutty (and all-too-short) performance as Wak Joko is the kind that takes the director's ideas and just runs wild with them.
Director ni pula dikenali sebagai pengarah yang banyak menyentuh isu-isu masyarakat dalam filemnya. Jujurnya, mula-mula saya tak nampak; every now and then, someone makes a non-sequiter comment about FINAS' censorship policies or the films of Razak Mohaideen for laughs, and if that's his idea of social commentary, well, penonton filem tempatan memang mudah dipuas. But then a major theme started to take shape here. To put it mildly, the good people of Kampung Pisang are a bunch of morons - superstitious, cowardly and gullible. Mesej yang filem ini hendak sampaikan ialah a call to rationality, and a rejection of all the kepercayaan tahyul-mahyul that is their knee-jerk reaction to anything out of the ordinary. Now that's a mesej that this avowed skeptic can totally get behind. Hell, I think ini sebuah mesej yang perlu didengari oleh masyarakat kita...
...tapi mungkin sebab inilah saya rasa ia boleh disampaikan dengan lebih baik lagi. Dalam satu babak, Hussin gives an impassioned speech to the villagers, warning them that their superstitions are carrying them too far. Um, kan baru tadi korang nampak hantu sebenar? ("Hantu Nang Nak", which is a reference to the 1999 Thai horror film, and an honest-to-goodness hantu kopek, which is not something I'd ever expected to see in a Malay movie.) If Mamat meant this as some kind of mass hallucination, I didn't really get that. And then there's its ending which, without giving too much away, ia macam menyanggah tema rasionalis yang telah di-establish-kan. Now, maybe it's just me. Mungkin saya melakukan dosa terbesar pengkritik filem, iaitu memikirkan filem yang ingin saya bikin sendiri daripada filem yang sepatutnya saya ulas.
Because again, this movie isn't made for me; it's made for an audience which, from the cinema I was in, enjoyed it immensely and got all its jokes. (There's a running gag about the kampung folks going "ce-citer, ce-citer" which they all thought was hilarious, and which I assume must be a Perakian thing.) And even from my outsider's perspective, I could tell that it is uncommonly well-made for a local film; Mamat uses darkness and shadow to spooky good effect, and displays a remarkably deadpan sense of comic timing. Ini menjadikan ia sebuah filem yang jelas lebih baik daripada Estet, serta telah memulihkan keyakinan saya terhadap Mamat Khalid. Sayangnya, ia sebuah filem yang saya kurang memahami, dan juga bukan sebuah filem yang boleh dihargai di luar negara. Tapi tak salah kalau sesebuah filem Melayu tidak menjadikan itu sebagai sasaran. Orang kampung pun suka tengok filem - dan mereka berhak mendapat filem yang dibikin dengan elok.
NEXT REVIEW: TRON: Legacy
Expectations: considerably lessened