5 September 2019 | kannibalcorpsegrinder
Solid if somewhat flawed Malaysian psychological horror effort
Trying to move on with her life, a burgeoning writer finds that she must return to her childhood home and be with her sister to help her get better, but the longer they stay in the house the more they realize that lingering family secrets aren't the only things haunting them.
For the most part, this one strikes a lot of positive points about it. A large part of the film's goodwill is derived from a detailed and enjoyable drama-filled storyline. Bringing the two sisters back together again with the separation affecting their relationship, having noted that they're not in close contact anymore due to the hospitalization and concurrent novel she's writing both serving to keep them apart for as long as they are. Harboring as much guilt as they are for each other's predicament as well as for the manner in which their beloved mother died when they were kids leaves a rather striking and memorable impression in the film as the story milks that drama for all it's worth in the early stages slowly letting them come to grips with being around each other and getting comfortable within the house. Graced with this fine setup, the film manages to let loose with some calculated and effective scares. The idea of the one sister still uneasy about being out of the asylum and being spooked by simple everyday occurrences allows the film to hide some effective moments behind that premise and keep them in the house longer when most would have abandoned the property. Other scenes, such as ghostly figures moving behind their backs for an entire conversation and no one noticing it or the continuous instances of her claiming to hear eerie wailing from inside the house manage to keep this one with enough horror elements alongside the dramatic elements. More great scare tactics include the reappearing shoes found around the house or several fantastic gags with cloths draped over furniture which are quite chilling and set the stage for the rather creepy finale that's far more haunting than expected. Bringing aboard the only real ghostly activity to be had and twisting the entire storyline around in a controversial manner, this is a striking part of the film and helps hold it up over its flaws. That said, there are some big problems with the film. The most obvious and egregious is the bland and dragged-out pacing that will make this a real challenge for some viewers. The reliance on creating a slow, sedate atmosphere in the film that never really builds spooks or jump-scares, for the most part, makes its main running time feel uneventful and dull in places. The fact that it oftentimes will set up a potential scare only to get interrupted and never pay it off may come off realistically but it can lead to some frustration when this goes for long periods detailing their relationship struggles rather than concentrating on the ghostly activities. That this never even makes it clear that a ghost is truly at the center of the activities as it concentrates more on the sister's fractured mindset than anything else makes the finale's twist all the more expected and not so shocking at all which is a rather distressing factor that the film goes down that road when it never even earned pulling it off to begin with. Overall, these are what hold this one back.
Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.