Director Syafiq Yusof is pulling no punches on his latest film, Misteri Dilaila. During an early screening of Misteri Dilaila, the press was greeted with the sight of a lush, sophisticated English country house, where most of the film is set.
Syafiq revealed some RM300,000 (of the film’s total cost RM2.2mil) was spent on refurbishing the house, in order to bring the opulent backdrop to the big screen.
“We wanted to find an English-style house we could use for filming at Fraser’s Hill,” he said. “Although there were many houses with English-style exteriors, we couldn’t find any with English-style interiors.”
The 26-year-old director says he wanted to present a different aesthetic to horror films. “A lot of Malay horror films usually feature the rumah kampung as its backdrop. I thought, ‘Why don’t we do something different?’”
Misteri Dilaila centres on a quarrelsome couple – Jeffri (Zul Ariffin) and Dilaila (Elizabeth Tan) – spending their holiday at their vacation home in Fraser’s Hill. But a number of strange occurences begin to take place at the vacation home.
After a heated argument with Dilaila, Jeffri discovers the next day that his wife has disappeared without a trace. Next, a mysterious woman appears at his doorstep claiming to be his wife!
Interestingly, this other Dilaila (Sasqia Dahuri), who bears a striking resemblance to his wife, is able to corroborate her claim by providing personal details known only by Jeffri and the original Dilaila. In the midst of all this, Jeffri is haunted by various apparitions lurking in the vacation home.
Syafiq, who also wrote the screenplay, talks about his creative process.
“I spent a lot of time writing and researching. I looked at Korean films in particular. In the last three years or so, Korean horror films aren’t centred on the horror aspect – the emphasis is on the story. People are more excited about following the story than waiting for the ghost to appear, and that’s the formula I followed.”
Misteri Dilaila marks TV actress Sasqia’s first lead movie role. “When I first got the call and was offered the role, I was like, ‘is this for real?’” she said.
The Kelantan-born actress has been pursuing acting full-time for over five years now and hopes the film will open more doors for her.
Addressing the possibility of her performance being compared to Tan’s take on Dilaila, she says: “I feel confident with the quality of my work and what I’ve offered. Also, our characters are very different, the way we carry them are also different.”
Meanwhile, Zul, who has played a string of action roles (Tombiruo: Penunggu Rimba, J Revolusi), is showing off his dramatic acting chops more here.
Asked about potentially being nominated for a Best Actor trophy at the Malaysia Film Festival, Malaysia’s equivalent to the Oscars, he replies: “For me, I can’t predict or control that, what I can do is just shoot the film and promote it. If it happens, it happens.”