It’s officially spooky season! You know what that means — horror movies every night until Halloween! For this edition of “Bad Malaysian Movies”, we delve into Paku Pontianak, a movie about an estranged girl with amnesia relearning her past.
Before I watched this movie, I was first pulled in by the poster — it looked scary enough. I didn’t watch the trailer, though, because I like to be surprised. It did, however, receive a three star rating on IMDB with one review saying that it was “too slow and too boring.”
In hindsight, I should have known that it would be horrible. But since it’s my job, I sucked it up and watched it anyway.
The Beginning of a Mistake
We start off the movie with an old man in a forest seemingly looking for something. A figure suddenly passes above him, cloaked in long unkempt hair and a white torn robe. It’s also obviously just a mannequin that was being dragged around the jungle, as you can see the way it’s swung around is just hilarious.
The old man creeped up on the pontianak and intended to stab her behind the neck, but she twisted around and managed to dodge his attack and injured him instead. On the second try, he finally managed to stab her in the neck and as she screams up into the night sky, the screen fades to black. We are given a powerpoint transition of the name of the movie before it starts for real.
Three minutes in and we meet the hero, Adam (played by Pekin Ibrahim), a vase maker, as he walks around his house. We join him as he hops into his car, presumably about to go to work and almost runs over a girl on her bicycle.
As he dramatically stares at her in shock, we get pulled into a flashback of him driving at night and accidentally slamming into a girl named Melati (played by Uqasha Senrose), causing her to pass out. Here, we can collectively agree that he needs his license revoked if he’s been frequently hitting people with a car. I mean, one’s a chance and two’s a pattern or something like that?
Not knowing what to do, he did the most logical thing in this situation; which was to bring her home to his mother.
His mum, along with his sister and her husband urged him to bring her to the hospital but he refused, saying that it would cause more trouble. I’m sorry, sir? More trouble? Just tell them she ran in front of your car and they’ll handle it. Whatever happens to him after that is going to be on him.
When You Fall For A Girl You Hit With Your Car
The next morning, the village doctor or Shaman — I have no idea who this lady is — took a look at her and informed the family that she’ll be just fine. The girl finally woke up, confused and scared and asking where she was.
Instead of giving her an answer, they just told her that she was sick and asked her to rest. Honestly, if I was in this girl’s situation, I would have hightailed out of there so quickly. That’s such a sketchy thing to say to someone. They offer her no further information, but it turns out, they don’t really have to, seeing as she doesn’t remember anything but her name.
Fast forward to six months later and she’s still there. So, she lives with them now. But at least they put up a missing poster of her in the papers, yet no one has come to look for her. She doesn’t really know the people she’s living with and I don’t know, man, isn’t that so strange?
Another important thing to point out is that apparently, this Adam dude has a girlfriend. Someone who doesn’t take it kindly that her boyfriend is now living with a girl that’s not only naive and innocent, but pretty too.
It’s lowkey hilarious, if you think about it. There’s a random girl who your boyfriend almost ran over with his car and is now living with said boyfriend’s family and calling his mother “mak”? If I were you, girl, I’d be throwing hands by now.
So This Is Love ~ (A Version Of It, At Least)
One day, while Melati was alone at home, she suddenly started dancing. I know y’all are imagining something like a TikTok dance or some sort of hip hop number, but I’m talking about the Malaysian traditional dance with the intricate finger movements and all. That’s when you know something’s wrong with her.
She stopped her movements when she was caught by Adam, who was mesmerised by her performance. He told her off and then they acted like nothing happened.
Understandably, the girlfriend, who goes by Seri (played by Hidayah Samsudin), upped her game in wanting to be the woman in her man’s life. She visits him at work and is all nice and polite. But he seems to treat her like she’s a stranger. Honestly, at this point, I don’t even know if she is actually his girlfriend or not.
She confronted him about his odd behaviour of always ignoring her in favour of paying attention to Melati and all he had to say was for her to watch her mouth. There was also a scene where he pretended to mold a clay vase, but it looked ridiculous because his hands weren’t even dirty.
Marry That Ponti (?)
It’s been 20 minutes and we finally see a glimpse of the ghost. Adam’s sister woke up in the middle of the night to find Melati dancing again and when she called out to her, Melati turned around to reveal a horribly disfigured face. The sister screamed out but Melati suddenly disappeared.
Ever since then, it seems like Melati’s behaviour has changed somewhat. She becomes more mysterious and the looks she exchanged with Adam feels a lot more charged (note: it’s not cute. It’s kind of gross and creepy, actually).
The movie gets weirder and weirder as the scenes progress. Adam’s mother told him that the villagers are starting to talk about him and Melati, so the only way to get them to be quiet is for him to marry her. Which is very strange to me because, again, doesn’t he already have a girlfriend? And they could have just sent this Melati girl away?
Honestly, the acting and dialogue in this movie could have been better. Everything is just so confusing to decipher. I’ve hit the 30 minute mark and I am hyperventilating because this movie is so slow and I just want answers.
Adam and Melati share their thoughts over the future one night while sitting at the table by the garden and discuss what they plan to do together. Melati seems to accept Adam’s proposal and they go wedding dress shopping while Adam’s (ex?) girlfriend looks on in jealousy, rage and sadness.
The Only Sane Person In The Movie
Halfway through the movie, we get introduced to a new character, Pak Leh (played by the late Sidek Hussain) who seems to be the only one in this movie that’s remotely suspicious of Melati.
Pak Saleh urges Adam’s mother to do a check on Melati’s background and upon his insistence, she agrees. Meanwhile, Seri tries one last thing, after going to a Shaman, to secure her future with Adam, not wanting to accept that he’s already married.
Adam’s family, however, slowly but surely realises that Melati is not like other girls. Better late than never, I guess? They had to marry Adam off to her before they figured out something was wrong? I’m just saying, all of this could have been avoided if they just brought Melati to the hospital in the first place.
A few disturbing scenes happen to Adam, hinting that his wife may not be normal. But for some reason, he ignores all the red flags and continues to treat her as normal. At this point, I’m starting to think that this Adam dude is just a person who has a kink for being confused and out of the loop.
There are very obvious and clear signs that your wife is either possessed or a ghost. What’s not clicking, sir?
Thank God It’s The End
Let’s just cut to the end, shall we? I feel like I’ve been watching this movie for three hours and I’m over it. In the end, it turns out that Melati really is a ghost, a pontianak at that. Isn’t that a shocker? For Adam, at least.
There was a scene when everyone thought Seri was the one that cursed Melati because she was jealous of her but it turns out she was also possessed? After Pak Saleh “sedated” her, the family finally focused on Melati and her original form.
She was exposed by Pak Saleh, who figured out what she was and warned Adam’s whole family but Adam loved his wife so much that he refused to believe it until he was forced to face the reality that she really is a ghost.
I don’t really care for the characters all that much because they seem to not be very memorable or impactful. The movie also doesn’t really move at a normal pace and the ending was kind of confusing because for some reason, Melati is related to Adam’s father in some way but no one knew except Pak Saleh.
I think the movie wanted to give off an “oh! I didn’t realise that!” vibe but it turns out to be more like a “what the heck is actually happening here?” vibe.
I didn’t like the movie. It’s slow, it’s not scary and it feels like there should be more explanation rather than prolonged eye contact from the actors.
Oh also, I hate that half-cut crown cap Adam always wears. It bugged me throughout the whole movie. If you can afford to buy a wedding gown for your wife, you can afford another cap, mister. You can buy a cap for like RM5.
Overall, I would give this movie a 2/10. The two is because I personally am a fan of the actress that plays Melati, even though her character in this movie was mediocre at best. But we all have off days, don’t we?
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