The production crew of Pusaka scouted the whole of Malaysia for possible filming locations for the horror flick.
While they found almost all of them in Perak – specifically Ipoh, Kampar and Batu Gajah – they had yet to discover a suitable abandoned house where the central story kicks off and ends.
“We just couldn’t find the right place although we went looking practically everywhere, ” recalled Pusaka director Razaisyam Rashid (of the paranormal detective TV series Mandatori).
“It was only two or three days before filming began that we located a house at Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur. It looked like no one had lived there for a long time; there were big trees surrounding it. It was a really creepy place to be, and even creepier to be filming in it as most of the shoots there were done in the middle of the night.”
At one point, when filming the climactic scene at 2am, Razaisyam confessed he just left the house in the middle of the shoot as he felt something was pressing his head.
Turning to his cast, he told them: “You all must’ve wondered why I didn’t yell cut for the longest of time, right? I just had to leave because my head felt heavy.”
The feeling of uneasiness that’s present during filming translates successfully to film as the movie is effectively scary, from start to finish.
Modernising the horror element
In Pusaka, Inspector Nuar Ishak (Syafiq Kyle) finds a pair of twins locked in an empty house. One of them is dead while the other is barely alive. At the site, Nuar also finds strange symbols and writings on the wall, as well as weird noises within the wall.
As he digs further, he is presented with twists and turns in the case that are supernatural and mystical, both of which are beyond the capability of his logical mind.
More dead bodies start turning up every corner he turns, too. What’s stranger, the case starts to affect his relationship with his own twin sister, Nur (Mimi Lana).
“What makes Pusaka different from other local horror fares is that we’ve combined a police investigation with supernatural elements. Also, most Malaysian horror films tend to be set in a kampung.
“In that sense, we have modernised the horror element, ” explained Razaisyam, who added that he looked to James Wan’s works for inspiration especially The Conjuring.
In pushing the envelope, Razaisyam asked a lot from his actors, and all of them were eager to comply, especially lead actor Syafiq.
The 27-year-old, who was most recently seen on the drama series Nur 2, said: “When I was offered the script, I saw it very much like a one-man show. The whole film lands on this one character, which is my character.
“So I felt it was up to me, to put in a lot more extra effort. I have to say, I lost some weight while filming Pusaka, as I found it challenging to shoulder the film. But challenge is something I welcome with every project.”
‘I felt like I was going to die’
One of the things Pusaka features a lot are scenes of people floating, either from being possessed or are moved telekinetically by an evil force. Almost everyone in the cast of Pusaka has such a scene, and for most of them, it’s their first time experiencing stunt rigging (where movements such as flying or floating are achieved with wires).
As it turns out, the cast member who was most excited to execute the stunt rigging was Fauziah Datuk Ahmad Daud, better known as Ogy.
“When they told me I would be doing the stunt myself, because they needed to get my character’s reactions during the scene, I was excited and agreed to it. I thought this was my chance to be Lara Croft, ” the 57-year-old dead-panned.
“No one has given me such an opportunity before, ” she added. “I enjoyed the whole process because it was something new to me. Also, this is the first time I was offered a role in a horror film, something that I’ve never done before either.”
Likewise, Mimi described the stunt rigging as both “the most challenging and the most interesting experience”.
While Ogy aced the rigging scene, she had a bit of a problem with reciting an incantation.
“I had three incantations to memorise. For some reason, I just couldn’t master the second one. It just felt very heavy and, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little disturbed reciting it.
“I felt a little off whenever I had to read the incantation. At one moment during filming, I felt like I was going to die. There was just so much energy building up in me, that I felt I had to thump the table (to get it out).
“I was so distressed about it that I requested to the director to get rid of the second incantation but he said he couldn’t as it would disrupt the story’s continuity, ” Ogy said.
With some tweaking to the incantation and the help of cue cards, Ogy got through the scene. Despite the difficult process, Ogy only has high praises for the production team and the director for creating an impressive horror film featuring local mystical elements.
She shared: “It’s brave of them to highlight a taboo subject – the practice of black magic involving jinn and the devil.
“It is something the older generation dabbled in, and something today’s generation don’t believe in. While the spiritual deviance shown in the film is fictional, it is done in a legitimate manner. I also appreciate there is an important takeaway at the end of the movie, a reminder that only God is the most powerful.”
Pusaka opens at GSC cinemas nationwide Oct 31, 2019.