My first encounter with Darah was the little trailer reminding cinema-goers to turn off their handphones.
The short features a psychotic person with long dishevelled hair, looking like a cross between a drag queen and a pontianak, screeching hysterically as she swings a blade at an off-screen victim.
Big red bloody words appear on screen:
TURN IT OFF OR
SHE’LL CUT IT OFF
I rolled my eyes when I first saw it. It was the epitome of cheesy. It gave me the impression that Darah was a B-grade comedy horror.
Weeks after I saw the trailer, I met with Eric Khoo and learnt that he’s the executive producer for the film. I was surprised and a little disturbed.
Subsequently, he invited me to a special Darah screening. He said it’s a good movie so I decided to suspend all expectations and believe him.
The screening was held at the old Thumper Bar at Goodwood Park Hotel, which is currently undergoing major renovations so it looks really grungy and creepy.
It was quite dark in there. I didn’t even realise while I was there that the projecter was sitting on a blood-stained sheet.
Yes, even though I took this photo. And even though I actually sat in the front row that night. I didn’t notice the blood-stained sheet until I went home and saw my photos.
I did notice this blood-stained sheet covering the entrance to the bar, though.
I’m not blind. Really.
That night, I learnt that the lead actress in Darah had won an award for the film, which made me more curious to watch it. It was hard for me to reconcile the comically-crazed pontianak in the cheesy phone trailer with award-winning.
Eric Khoo gives a short speech before the screening.
Well, now that I’ve seen it, I’m declaring that the film is so far from being B-grade that I would give it a few extra As for good measure.
Darah follows a group of six friends who stumble upon a damsel in distress in the middle of nowhere, while on a road trip. Being do-gooders, they offer to give her a ride home.
Home is a big old creepy house in the middle of a thick, isolated jungle.
What follows is a prolonged night of senseless slaughter, sometimes in explosive carnage, sometimes in exquisite detail. The plot is not particularly unique and realistic, but I like how the film was executed.
Let me first say that Darah is possibly the goriest movie I’ve seen (I don’t see too many of them, though). It’s not for the weak-stomached. The lady next to me had to cover her eyes half the time. Me, I was clutching onto my handbag and jacket too tightly for the whole 90 minutes, making valiant efforts to stifle my screams.
The suspense build-up and roller-coaster teasing are chilling and thrilling. The cinematography is dramatic and artistic enough to prevent the film from being simply a gratuitous bloodfest. There is a lot of blood in the film. More than you can bear.
The actors are all brilliant. I can’t understand why they didn’t all get awards. I also learnt that the makeup and special effects were done by just one person, which makes it inexpressibly remarkable.
As an objective critic, I really, really liked the film.
As a scaredy cat, I was totally pulverised.
Darah is an Indonesian film (with English subtitles) by newbie filmmakers Mo Brothers. It’s called Macabre in other parts of the world. I think it’s only called Darah (which means blood) in Singapore because they found that too many Singaporeans can’t pronounce or doesn’t know the meaning of macabre.
It’s rated M18.