'Zombitopia' not that different from Covid-19 pandemic, says actor Shaheizy Sam

Shaheizy Sam plays a loner who learns quickly to survive in 'Zombitopia'. Photo: Google

Leading men Bront Palarae and Shaheizy Sam, who star in fantasy-thriller Zombitopia, are both excited that the film is finally getting to the audience after they shot it some five years ago.

Zombitopia is available on Disney+ Hotstar. It was originally slated for release at cinemas in February last year.

“It is kind of weird to showcase the film on TV instead of premiering it on cinema first but, at the end of the day, it is all the same, ” said Shaheizy during an online press meet.

“Furthermore, we can avoid close contact this way.”

At the same video call, Bront added: “I think Zombitopia is a light fare with a nice novelty to it. It’s a movie I can watch with my daughter and her friends.

“It has a wholesome entertainment quality to it, so the whole family can watch it despite there being zombies in it.

“There is some violence but not too much and it has exciting action (sequences) everyone can enjoy.”

Directed by Woo Ming Jin (aka MJ Woo), Zombitopia tells of a world where a virus has been released to the general public that turns the infected extremely violent.

Due to the virus, there are victims everywhere like young Zidik, who watched helplessly as his family members kill each other.

Managing to escape, he ends up at an orphanage where he befriends Zooey.

Fifteen years later, the world has somewhat gotten back to its feet.

Zidik (Shaheizy) is trying to get on with his life even as he and everyone around him are still experiencing the consequences of the tragedies.

But things get chaotic again when Dr Rahman (Bront) releases a new strain of zombie virus.

Shaheizy mentioned: “You know there are some similarities between the plot in Zombitopia and what’s going on now with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am living in fear... we want to go out, but we’re scared to.”

He continued: “The difference is we can’t see the enemy with Covid-19 but with a zombie you practically see the danger running towards to you. But both are equally horrific.”

To Shaheizy, the visual effects in the film make the zombies and the setting seem real. This fantasy and horror elements were some of the reasons why the Malaysia Film Festival Best Actor wanted to be part of Zombitopia.

In an interview with an online portal, Shaheizy said that unlike most locally made zombie films which tend to be comedies, Zombitopia stands apart in how it tries to bring the audiences into a nightmarish world that’s overwhelmed with the living dead.

“I wanted to immerse in that world, ” mentioned Shaheizy, 38.

Meanwhile Bront, 42, told StarLifestyle his reason for signing on to Zombitopia: “I was looking for something interesting to do like a mainstream project, because at the time I had been in too many arthouse projects and things like that.

“I’ve been searching for the right kind of team, and right kind of flavour to get into next when I came across this, ” said Bront, who has a successful career not only in Malaysia, but also in Indonesia and Philippines.

He added: “I have been wanting to work with the director for quite some time, and with my good friend Shaheizy.

“Whenever (Shaheizy and I) bump into each other, we always say, ‘Hey, let’s do something; let’s find something to do together’.

“When I found out that he was already on board Zombitopia, you know, my decision was made right there and then.”

No wonder when asked what his favourite part was while filming Zombitopia, Bront – recalling a scene where the two main characters hit each other – replied: “Fighting with Shaheizy Sam!”

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