Avenge with "Dendam Orang Mati"

Writer: Erny Suzira

The cast and crew of "Dendam Orang Mati" including the ghosts and ghouls.

The latest local horror film produced by KRU Studios, "Dendam Orang Mati" mixes thrill, suspense, horror, drama and psychology into one single movie. Directed by Malaysian Chinese actor and director, Jason Chong, the film use the superstitious belief of the Chinese culture towards the bad luck number 'four' which is incorporated into the story.

Starring famous local artistes such as Lisa Surihani and Fizz Fairuz, the film revolves around Lena, a woman who just woke up from her coma and is unable to remember anything but her husband, Shahrul. When Lena returns to her old apartment, mysterious beings began to haunt her very night until she realises that it has something to with her life before her memory loss.

The cast and crew of the local horror film shared their chilling experience working on the film, how Lisa almost turned down the lead role, and the ambiguous plot that left Fizz confused with Cinema Online who was there for the exclusive conversation.

What is actually the main message of "Dendam Orang Mati"?
Jason: The film was previously titled as "Tingkat 4". When I first heard the synopsis of the story I was attracted to it because I think that the story is not biased. The film is about humans and the horror element in it. What I like about the movie is that it tells you that there is something more horrifying than ghosts or supernatural beings, which is the evil within yourself, something that you don't know you possess. That's the angle that we wanted to convey to viewers.

So Lisa, how did you feel when you were offered to play the main lead?
Lisa: When I was first offered the role of the main lead of "Dendam Orang Mati", it was during the shooting of another one of Jason Chong's film ,"Ular" and to be honest I am not very fond with this genre. So at first I actually told them 'no, I don't want to do it', but during the shooting of "Ular" in Hulu Langat, Yusry asked me to give it a try, to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do this. So, I thought about it a lot before I decided, but then I said 'okay, but if you really want me to do it, please provide me an acting workshop before we go into set.'

So, who actually guided you through your workshop training?
Lisa: The person who assisted me a lot during my workshop training was Fauziah Nawi and also thanks to director Jason Chong for willing to provide me with the workshop. Both of them really truly helped a lot in forming my character, Lena. Therefore, it would not have been possible for me to deliver the character properly if it is not because of the guidance of Fauziah and Jason and also the support from my husband Yusry.

Also, I have worked with an amazing team for "Dendam Orang Mati"; every department were very committed during the shooting. I admit that the shoot was not easy, it was a very difficult shoot. But with all the hard work and cooperation from every department like art, make-up and lighting, they made it all possible.

What about you Fizz, why did you accept this role?
Fizz: I knew the heroine of the film is Lisa Surihani and the best part is that I get to hug both Lisa and Miera in the film, but that was before I had gotten married. Another reason is because I never worked with Jason before, when I started working with him, only then I realised that he is one crazy director. I have no idea what is running through his mind, what he actually wanted.

Jason Chong with the two other cast of "Dendam Orang Mati", Fizz Fairuz (Middle) and Miera Liyana (Left)

How do you feel about this film at the end of the day?
Fizz: Well, I experienced something new throughout the film production. It is an experience that I never had via my other films. In the shooting of this film, every scene felt so real. I'm really proud of the result of it, proud of Jason, Lisa and Miera. I'm very satisfied.

What is your favourite part of the film?
Fizz: Truthfully, I don't really understand the plot of the story. I asked Jason 'is this a horror movie or what' and he said 'no, it's a psychological film.' But for me it looks more like a ghost story. After I had finished watching the movie, I asked the director again, 'so, what is the ending really about?' But I think he has his own way of doing things, so I think I'll just leave the mysteries to the director.

That's true, don't you think that the ending of the film is kind of ambiguous? What can you comment about this, Yusry?
Yusry: Like Fizz said, that was Jason's intention from the start. He wanted the audience to know that no one is fully right or wrong. It is not a question mark, it is an exclamation mark. He wanted the audience to go home and think.

Yusry (Right) sitting next to director Jason Chong (Left) during the conference.

Alright, what about Lisa? What do you like about the film?
Lisa: What I really love about this film is that, as how Yusry had explained earlier, the ending is open-ended. Whatever your evaluation may be, whether it's A or B, you are not wrong. I kind of like that, I think it was pretty cool.

Okay, how about Miera? What can you comment about the film?
I want to firstly thank KRU, this is my second time working with KRU Studios; the first one was "Hotel Mania", but I didn't have a lot of scenes in that film. With "Dendam Orang Mati", I feel honoured that I got to act alongside Lisa Surihani and Fizz Fairuz, two of the greatest actors in K.L. Both of them taught me a lot and Jason as well, they guided me throughout my acting in this film, I am really grateful to all of them.

Jason, how did you mold Lena's character?
Jason: For the character Lena, we focused on the micro elements instead of the macro because if we concentrated on the macro part of the story like the ghost and other supernatural phenomena, she would've probably felt uncomfortable. But instead we went through very small details like the emotions of the character, the way she viewed her surroundings, her eye contact with people and the psychological impact. So, we focused on all these small details to take the attention away from the horror genre.

Lisa: As you know, during the shoot, we didn't follow the chronological order of the film. There was a few jump scenes and skipped scenes. That is why the direction and guidance of the director is important so that Lena's character would not stray away from the original intention planned.

Lisa, you said that you do not like playing this kind of roles, so how did you manage to get through it?
It is all thanks to Fauziah Nawi, she is a really good mentor, she always reminded me how our characters should be when we're on set and off set, because in this shoot we faced the same creepy scenery, dark location and environment every day. Those things will eventually get to you. That's why Yusry always took me to a nice place after shooting. It is kind of like a therapeutic treatment.

I also think it is because of the set changes. It gets uglier every time. The last set was when everything was burnt down, so I believe our mood was also driven by the set that we shot in.

The cast and crew of "Dendam Orang Mati".
Was the process of the shooting tiring?
Yes, the shooting was done in a challenging location and the time taken for the shoot was long; sometimes its 18 hours and sometimes its 23 hours per day. You don't even have time to go home and take a bath, but it is not like Jason tortured us or anything. This is normal. This is what usually happens on set. What I'm trying to say is that, even though the process was exhausting, I feel like all those sleepless nights were worth it. The fact is that we all committed and had put all of our heart and soul into this film.

How is the final process of the shooting like?
Some of us didn't get a lot of sleep for the last 3 days of the shoot. We pushed beyond 28 hours because we were really out of time and there were times we ran out of energy, but we still tried to push through.

So what was the hardest scene of the film?
The hardest scene was when I had to carry Lisa out of the fiery building. Thank goodness she is not heavy. The fire scene was really tricky, I was in the lift with one of the crew and two big tank of gas that shoots fire, I was worried that the tank will blow up, but the crew assured me that it won't. Imagine, I had to shoot the scene twice, I felt like I was acting in some sort of a Hollywood action film, but it was a great experience and I am satisfied.

So Yusry, any final words on the film?

The truth is, acting is easy, but if you are asked to deliver a character that is a lunatic and pitiful; a character that possesses all those personalities, then I have to say that it is a bit tricky. But I must say that Lisa and Jason did a really good job in molding the character Lena in "Dendam Orang Mati". The same goes to the other cast who supported and helped during the production and making this film a success, thank you very much!

"Dendam Orang Mati" comes to cinemas on 23 October 2014.

Cinema Online, 22 October 2014