Lisa Surihani and husband Yusry Abdul Halim join forces for a creature feature.
The new local film Ular has a couple of firsts to it. It is the first Malaysian film in recent years to venture into the “creature feature” territory and the first film to star the husband-and-wife duo, Yusry Abdul Halim and Lisa Surihani.
Well, actually, they shot the film last year before they were married. Or to be more accurate: “It was a month before we tied the knot,” shared Lisa.
According to the actress, working together didn’t pose a problem. As a matter of fact, she recalled it “was a nice experience.”
“I wanted to see if we can work together even though we have different ideologies (about acting). We ended up talking a lot more to each other during filming, and discovered that we both admire and respect each other. We are both also extremely passionate about our work.”
Yusry concurred: “It turned out for the better as we could discuss ideas as the shoot progressed.”
While filming the movie helped strengthen the couple’s relationship, it was, nonetheless, a gruelling shoot.
Ular was shot at Pangkor Island in Perak and Batu Arang in Selangor. Yusry said: “When Pangkor Island is mentioned, people always think of resort and beaches. But in our case, we had to venture into the jungle where everything was muddy and dirty.”
Lisa jumped in with: “We suffered various scratches and I was even stung by a bee.”
Ular revolves around an investigative journalist, Myra (Lisa), and a photographer, Remy (Yusry), who arrive at an island where tourists are disappearing without a trace.
As they check into the resort, which is run by an elderly couple, Myra and Remy discover the truth behind the disappearances and it is far more dangerous than they realise.
Without giving away any spoilers, Ular has something to do with really hungry snakes on the loose. Directed by Jason Chong with special effects provided by Yusry, the film utilises live snakes to create the notion of an island infested with the deadly reptiles.
“At any given day, there were at least six snakes on set.” said Yusry.
While both actors do not have a phobia of snakes, they’d rather not handle the creatures if given the option.
Lisa confessed: “I wouldn’t say I was too thrilled about handling the slithery creatures, but we had the snake carers on standby, so I was able to overcome my fear.”
Yusry said: “Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t want snakes near me. They are not exactly cuddly creatures. Funny thing is, Lisa is more afraid of butterflies than snakes.”
In that case, why choose snakes as the main villains?
Yusry answered: “The creature could have been a crocodile, but the animal that most Malaysians have encountered is the snake. Almost every Malaysian has a story about snakes; so the fear of snakes is already there.”
Luckily, for some scenes, prop snakes were used. There are a couple of computer-generated shots too: scenes like a snake swallowing a cat for example.
“We are not going to sacrifice a cat, so CGI was used for that. But there’s very little effects in this film,” explained Yusry.
Despite the challenges, the couple was interested in participating in the film because it offered something different.
“We were interested in the genre. We want to put out a film that hasn’t been done locally. We could be lazy and make same old comedy, or we could open new doors and start something fresh in Malaysia,” Yusry concluded.
Ular is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.