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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: The Mo Brothers
Cast: Shareefa Daanish, Imelda Therinne, Arifin Putra, Ruli Lubis, Julie Estelle, Ario Bayu, Sigi Wimala, Daniel Mananta, Dendy Subangil, Mike Muliadro
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: GV & Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: M18

Official Website:

Opening Day: 8 October 2009


Darah tells the tale of a most horrifying night for 6 friends. Two newly weds Adjie and Astrid, along with 3 of their best mates decide to have an interstate road trip as a last attempt to reconcile Adjie with his estranged younger sister Ladya. Their drive is, however, cut abruptly when they run into Maya, a strange girl who wanders aimlessly out of nowhere into their path. “I’ve been robbed” is all she has to say. The friends unanimously decide to give her a ride to her isolated house in the deep of the woods. This is when the night turns into a crimson-hell for the 6 friends. They find themselves trapped and hunted by Dara and her three deadly protégés who have been born and raised to systematically eliminate unsuspecting passerbys for one nefarious reason. One by one they are slaughtered. Everybody will bleed. The dark of night has never looked so red.

Movie Review:

It is quite an understatement to say that the Mo Brothers’ "Darah" is one bloody, gory affair. After all, this is the first feature from Gorylah Pictures, the genre label by Eric Khoo of Zhao Wei Films and Mike Wiluan of Infinite Frameworks. Their aim was to create an independent horror label focusing on unique Southeast Asian stories, beliefs and myths and to introduce such folklore to the rest of the world.

They need not worry if "Darah" can live up to the promise of the name of "Gorylah Pictures". It does- although it does take a while for the bloodletting to begin. Unlike other slasher films, "Darah" takes a deliberately paced approach before the killings begin. Indeed, quite rarely for a film of this nature, the Mo Brothers actually care for the characters that you know will soon be going under the knife, and they take their time at letting their audience get to know the sextet.

Quite unfortunately, their efforts are likely to ring hollow- since it is not likely that you’ll care much for the husband Ajie (Ario Bayu), his pregnant wife Astrid (Sigi Wimala), Ajie's sister Ladya (Julie Estelle) or any of their three friends. None of them are particularly likeable or memorable for you to root for them. The one person you’re more likely to remember is the movie’s titular character, Darah, the mother of the rain-drenched girl Maya the group of six so kindly oblige to give a ride home.

The setup is pure formula as they fall prey to Maya’s family of seriously disturbed individuals hiding a dark, mysterious secret in a sprawling colonial mansion. It is there they meet their worst nightmare and more- the prim and perfectly coiffurred matriarch of the family, Darah (Shareefa Daanish). With her thin smile, menacing stare and monotonous voice, Daanish’s award-winning portrayal of Darah is a riveting performance you’ll find yourself glued to.

And the Mo Brothers are well aware of that- since they have seemingly spent more time deciding how to photograph Darah so she looks more intimidating once she appears onscreen. In fact, as soon as Darah appears, the pair of filmmakers, Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, forget all that character buildup they spent crafting in the first 20 mins and relegate their victims to mere dimwits running around like headless horsemen (pun intended).

Yes, "Darah" is one of those movies where you’re left frustrated at the sheer stupidity of the characters as if they had their brains drained out even before Darah had the chance to lop their heads off. This also doesn’t help the surprisingly weak pacing, moving in stops and starts before finally finding its sure footing only during the climax when Darah goes balls-out mental with a buzzing chainsaw.

But local viewers are also likely to feel the buzz of another chainsaw- that of the censors who have snipped and mauled portions of the movie which are meant to be gory pleasures. It would have made more sense to have kept "Darah" uncut, since what audiences are most looking forward to is the gorefest this movie promises to unleash. Sadly, the M18 edited version of this unabashed tale of butchery is one butchered affair and audiences looking to savour its gory delights will likely be disappointed. Anyone looking for more need not even bother.

Movie Rating:

(Gory-lah- This first feature from Eric Khoo and Mike Wiluan’s genre label lives up to the name of its production company but little more)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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