PULAU (2023)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Euho
Cast: Amelia Henderson, Ikmal Amry, Alif Satar Jazmy Juma, Joey Leong, Sanjna Suri, Vikar, Evie Feroza, Sabronzo, Harris Annuar, Namron, Cedric Loo, Ms Pui Yi, Mark O'Dea, Alexander Henderson, Eddie Chong
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Some Violence)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 16 March 2023

Synopsis: The vacation of a group of youngsters turns into an endless horrifying nightmare after a losing bet forces them to spend a night at a deserted island. As they stumble upon a mysterious abandoned village there, they accidentally break an old spell that was placed to restraint an antagonising spirit trapped in the island. One by one, they are made to suffer the gripping and gruesome consequences of their mistakes, infuriating an evil creature that needs human blood to stay alive. The only way out is in the hands of a girl who desperately needs to use her supernatural gift to untangle an unsettling history connected to a tainted cross-cultural love story. 

Movie Review:

If you don’t already know, a movie’s box office success heavily depends on marketing. For this Malaysian horror movie, the publicity was widespread all the way back in January when the trailer was released. Over 1 million views were garnered for the 155 second minute clip over nine days, and netizens were discussing the amount of skin and suggestive sequences featured in the trailer.

Okay, let’s understand what the movie is about first. The story tells a familiar tale where a group of friends go on a resort vacation and have the time of their lives enjoying pool and beach parties. Then they lose a silly game and have to visit a remote island - despite being warned (by an old man, no less) against doing so. On the island, they begin experiencing supernatural occurrences and their challenge is to make it out of the island alive.

Let’s look at how the story was set up. A group of teenagers with raging hormones are holidaying in a resort, and naturally they would be dressed in swimwear and having fun in the waters. That explains why the cast is often seen in swimsuits, bikinis and board shorts. When the protagonists find themselves on the remote island, you can bet some of them feel the need to engage in exciting activities – hence we have those racy scenes. But you know something bad is going to happen when they knock down some supposedly holy stones in the wild. And you know the dude who pees on them is going to get it real bad.

But hey, every country has its censorship laws. For Malaysia, 10 scenes were cut for a PG 13 classification. This was after the movie became the subject of controversy for the explicit and suggestive visuals in the trailer. Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil even shared on Twitter that the movie trailer was "not suitable to be shown". The movie was eventually banned in Terengganu. In Singapore, the movie is rated M18 with the consumer advice of “Sexual scenes and Some Violence”.

Compared to Hollywood productions, this Malaysian movie doesn’t break new grounds when it comes to sex and horror. There’s even that ‘inspired’ movie poster design – go look up how the poster of Jeff Wadlow’s FantasyIsland(2020) looks like. Directed by Euho, this Malaysian production gives viewers what they expect in a horror flick, and the ensemble cast of Malaysian artistes including Amelia Henderson, Ikmal Amry, Alif Satar Jazmy Juma, Joey Leong, Sanjna Suri and Vikar does a fine job of portraying teenagers trying their best (although not in the wisest way) to survive on a haunted island. Production values are high, and when you put all these elements together, the result is an entertaining horror movie that takes up two hours of your time.

Another highlight of the movie is the appearance of Ms Puiyi, a penthouse and former OnlyFans model who is now a DJ. From what we saw, her scenes are probably the ones heavily cut from the Malaysian edition. At the end of the day, it is the box office that counts. Back home, the movie has made 2 million Malaysian ringgit within a week of release. It is also likely to pique the interest of moviegoers in Singapore, especially if you are a fan of any of the good looking cast members.

Movie Rating:

(This Malaysian supernatural movie has all the familiar ingredients to make it an entertaining horror flick)

Review by John Li


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