James Lee’s new horror thriller, Rasuk, stars Alif Satar, Elisya Sandha, and other new talents in the film industry

THIS month will see the release of a new, thrilling local horror film, but this one will be different from other cliched ghost stories. Rasuk, a film produced by Multimedia Entertainment, GoldenScreen Cinemas, Astro, and SixFun Media, employs a distinctive and unconventional approach in comparison to the majority of other horror scripts.

This film tells the story of a teacher, played by Alif Satar, who is ordered back to school to help monitor students who are beginning their term break, despite still being devastated and traumatised after suffering a family tragedy.

On the same day, five students go for a picnic by a river which is far from their hostel. One of them, Wari (Abbas Mahmood) discovers a mystery bottle while taking photos in the nearby jungle and opens it intently without thinking about its contents.

It doesn’t take long before Wari gets possessed once he returns to his dorm, and all hell breaks loose as the remaining students in the hostel begin to become possessed one by one, leaving his fellow classmates, the teacher, and security guards trapped inside the school.

In order to survive, they have to work together to find a way out, or at least, work to stay alive, if possible.

Above all, a sacrifice has to be made. This is the place where friendship is put to the test, where friends might become enemies or remain together until the last breath.

The film is directed by James Lee, who has won multiple international prizes, and features a cast of newcomers to the film industry, including Ayie, the lead vocalist of the band Floor 88, Amin, Atiq Azman, and Syazwan Razak.

Although the title suggests a supernatural horror atmosphere (“rasuk” means “possessed” in Malay), the film focuses primarily on zombie-like creatures. Despite that, the film does not follow the typical zombie flick formula, where infections are typically caused by viruses. This film takes inspiration from a familiar Malaysian phenomenon, the cases of mass hysteria and suspected ‘posessions’ that often strike hostel inhabitants, only in this case the possessed students turn violent.

The actors portrayed their characters admirably, especially Ikmal Amry and Elisya Sandha, who play non-identical twins. The two have genuine family bonding moments and emotions. The film’s tone, which plays up the mischievous schoolboy culture, also enhances the movie experience.

As director, Lee does his best to maintain the audience’s attention with a few excellent moments of tension, despite his dependence on contrived jump scares.

One downside is that the majority of the picture takes place during a power outage, and Lee features many scenes shot in near-darkness, with characters utilising only flashlights to navigate their way.

On the other hand, the movie has also managed to garner plenty of interest and many encouraging responses on social media, indicating that local film audiences are eagerly waiting to watch it on the big screen.

This film demonstrates that our local productions are capable of producing zombie-themed horror films which can stand out from the rest.

-> Cast: Alif Satar, Ikmal Amry, Elisya Sandha, Taufiq Hanafi and Ayie Floor 88

-> Director: James Lee