'Ada Hantu' marks actor Hairul Azreen's entry to directing

Hairul Azreen is best known for his work in 'Paskal: The Movie'. Photo: Samuel Ong/The Star

Actor Hairul Azreen, who is known for action roles in films like Paskal: The Movie and Wira, gets behind the camera for horror film Ada Hantu.

He also stars in the film, currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, alongside actors Zahiril Adzim, Shiqin Kamal and Elvina Chua.

If it’s not enough of a challenge to direct and star in a film, Hairul also had to work with the strict SOP while shooting the movie in December last year.

But the first-time director took onto helming a movie pretty well, according to actor Zahiril during a Zoom interview.

“Even though Hairul is a new director, he knew what he wanted and where he was headed with the film. He knew how to realise his vision.

“You would think that someone who’s an action star would make rookie mistakes, but he was quite adept at directing this horror movie,” explained Zahiril.

According to Hairul, his stint as a director began as a casual conversation with director Adrian Teh, with whom Hairul has worked with in three films.

Hairul recalled: “I was talking to Adrian about doing a horror movie, but he said he’s busy and suggested I direct it instead. I told him ‘I can direct but you have to teach me’.”

As it turned out, the 33-year-old eventually took on the role of a filmmaker and learned a thing or two in the process as well.

He mentioned: “It truly opened my eyes to what it means to be a director. It was a good experience as it gave me a fresh perspective to acting as well.”

Although Hairul didn’t want to reveal the film’s storyline during the interview – “if I say anything, it would ruin the surprise in the film” – he hoped audiences would get the message he’s trying to convey through the film.

“I want to present a horror movie that would make people think deeper about what they have just seen.”

His vision definitely impressed Zahiril, who admitted he agreed to be part of the film because of Ada Hantu’s storyline.

Zahiril shared: “When Hairul asked me to be part of the project, I was hesitant because it’s a horror flick and I had done a number of horror films already.

“But when he told me the story, I became quite keen. This is because there is an element in the middle of the movie that completely changes the story.

“This is different from all the other horror movies I have done, so I agreed to do it.”

And like the making of any good horror movie, something odd happened during the shoot.

“While we were filming a scene involving Zahiril’s character kicking a door and leaping into a room, he fell and sprained his ankle,” said Hairul. “Later, he told me that he felt someone push him into the room.”

Zahiril continued: “When I was going to kick the door, I felt an extra force behind me. Because of this additional strength, my landing from the leap didn’t go well and I sprained my ankle.”

Also, strange, but true – Hairul confessed he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat. “When I was young, whenever my mum left me alone at home, I would open all the doors and switch on all the lights so I won’t feel scared.”

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