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Film Review: A Horror that Awaits: “Pusaka”

 
By Jo Lynn Chong
Following the recent release of “Pusaka” in cinemas in line with Halloween, which fell on Thursday, October 31, Ipoh Echo brings to you a movie review of this Malaysian horror flick directed by Razaisyam Rashid.
Whilst the film revolves around the narrative of Inspector Nuar solving the case of the strange imprisonment of a pair of twins, Balqis and Qistina, several eerie elements encased in this cinematic gem successfully catches the eye of many horror-lovers.

First and foremost, the inclusion of twins already proves spine-chilling. To make matters worse, there are two pairs in this story. One pair being Balqis and Qistina and the other being Inspector Nuar and his twin sister. The subtle usage of this element could emphasise that there is more to this case than meets the eye, taking into consideration the belief that twins are interdependent of each other, suggesting that their fates could be interconnected and inexplicably “passed on” to each other.
Also, the wide usage of demonic possessions tugs at the heartstrings, prompting us to rethink our preconceived notions pertaining to the supernatural world. As Islam plays a huge role in this chiller-diller, encounters with the Jinn (supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology) do not come as a surprise.
With numerous grotesque scenes of possessions, “Pusaka” does not fail to keep the hairs on the back of your neck tingling. Violent convulsions, levitations, distorted body movements, abnormal strength and people speaking in different voices are all vividly portrayed. Further coupled with an unpredictable, overwhelming sensation that steadily keeps the audience thoroughly disturbed, these horrendous sights are definitely not for those with a weak heart.
The scene of a possessed mother molesting her own daughter also interestingly highlights sensitive themes of sexual lust, possibly accentuating the belief that immoral sexual acts are associated with the devil.
The film introduces us to the abandoned house where the twins were held captive, the place where all horror ultimately stems from, right at the start. We see ominous symbols on the walls and a dark silhouette of a young girl which continues to appear as the visible form of the demonic Jinn that toys with the characters throughout the investigation. This young girl ghost with long hair character may come off as cliché, but the bizarre lighting and sound effects work like magic to effectively bring out the masterly talent of this well-known ghoul.
Initially, through Balqis’ account of what happened to her and Qistina, Inspector Nuar concludes that the twins were locked up by their paternal grandmother, Opah, in an attempt to starve them to death so that the remaining inheritance from their late father (Opah’s son) could be passed on to Opah and the family of her other son, Megat Haikal.
The mystery deepens as the disturbances persist following the arrest of Opah. What seemed to be a case of haunting by the vengeful soul of the dead Qistina morphs into something fundamentally more terrifying and unnerving than one can even imagine.
Black magic, despite the public sensitivity towards it, is deeply entrenched in this film. Red shrines, symbols, charms such as the keris (a traditional Malay dagger) charms and incantations are also heavily featured, sustaining the element of dark horror in this seemingly ordinary scary film. Eventually, these blasphemous objects are used as clues to solve the case.
The many jump scares are skilfully executed, almost managing to send your pulse to a stop every single time. I assure you, the painful uneasiness that arises before each scare and the shocking anxiety that lingers after are more than sufficient to stir a gruelling pot of emotions that leave you gulping for fresh air. If you are prepared to have yourself shocked with scene after scene of horrible dark figures, then I do urge you to watch this chiller-diller!
Moreover, incorporating a psychological approach in the climax, Rashid pushes you to your cognitive limit by revealing that the person who is often deemed noble can, sometimes, incidentally turn out to be the sinful culprit, suggesting that good and evil exists in every one of us and it is up to us to decide which side to express. It could also be interpreted as an internal struggle, implying that there is not always a clear cut to what is good or bad.
The presence of smartphones and cars makes this horror story all the more terrifying and believable as it conveys the idea that even science is unable to explain what happened to the people in the story, almost hinting that demonic possessions occur even in the modern-day.
Honestly speaking, this movie managed to scare the wits out of me and I would encourage all those in the mood for something terrifying to go and watch this thrilling film.
 

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