To support the local film community, Disney+ Hotstar will be the exclusive home of “Ada Hantu” as part of the platform’s agreements with leading Malaysian studio, Act 2 Pictures. The film stars local celebrities Zahiril Adzim, Shiqin Kamal, Hairul Azreen, Elvina Chua, and Nafiez Zaidi.
The film pursues Aliff (Zahiril Adzim), a content creator who is skeptic of all things supernatural. To prove that ghosts are not real, he challenges his friends, Bariah (Shiqin Kamal), Talha (Hairul Azreen), Sasha (Elvina Chua), and Jimmy (Nafiez Zaidi) to spend a night in an old, abandoned house — rumoured to have been once owned by a Japanese general who had brutally tortured and murdered everyone around him. Eerie thrills and chills abound as the night progresses and as Aliff loses sight of his friends, he soon realises that the house is not all that he imagined it to be.
“Ada Hantu” shines the spotlight on Hairul Azreen as it marks his first directorial debut on set. He shares, “Directing a movie is a big responsibility, and one that isn’t easy to take on. Regardless, I was excited to work on “Ada Hantu” and was grateful to have been given the chance.”
We got the opportunity to join the director and cast of “Ada Hantu” during the press conference of the film where they talked about viewers’ expectations of the film and the eerie experiences while filming the horror scenes. Check out the interview here:
1. Can you describe your feeling being a first-time director and an actor in this film? Do you prefer being a director now that you have taken the step into directing?
Hairul Azreen: I am satisfied because we have a very solid cast and they successfully made this film whole. I personally am so excited for the premiere of this film that I keep counting the days for the premiere. All of us can’t wait for you guys to see this movie because we all have been waiting for this debut film of mine. People must have been wondering about this film, about my work but I promised a different kind of experience for the viewers.
Being a director is totally different from being an actor. Directing requires wider and bigger responsibilities. Honestly, I am more intrigued on continuing my dream as an action star because I have different dreams as an actor. But I have my own vision as a director as well. Adrian Teh helped me a lot and guided me during filming. As this is my first time directing and I don’t have sufficient experience so his guidance really helped me. Being a director has also increased my skills as an actor. It was truly an invaluable experience.
2. From being a Hero Malaya and an action star to a horror film director, what made you decide to produce this horror film as your directorial debut?
Hairul Azreen: We all know that Malaysia and Indonesia are both very popular with horror stories. We’ve been hearing these kinds of stories since childhood. When we were sleepy in class at school, sharing horror stories with friends would automatically wake us up. Horror is synonymous with our society and I think this is one thing that I could put up front as something different. In 2021, what kind of twists and variations that we can show. We are all familiar with boarding school horror stories, the kinds of mystical things that happen in boarding school toilets and so on. So, this film has a different kind of storyline. The original idea of this story actually comes from Adrian Teh. And from there we got to know the superstition in Chinese culture regarding ghosts. Because we usually hear Malay ghost stories, it is very rare that we hear mystical encounters of Chinese and Indians. So, we try to explore the Chinese and Indian ghost stories as well as taboos from the cultures in Malaysia.
3. As this film marks your directorial debut, are you ready to receive different reactions from viewers?
Hairul Azreen: Honestly speaking, we always need to be ready to face criticisms or feedback when we do anything. For me, we need to keep on doing our best and keep presenting our best efforts. If we keep on listening to the naysayers, we will not be able to produce any stories. So, it is better for us to focus on improving our work and do better. It is normal for audiences to have different reactions and I understand that not everyone would instantly find a liking in our film. We all have different interests. I will just try my best to keep improving and produce a film that could raise Malaysian films’ standards.
4. Zahiril, you have the most experience among the casts and you are known for being particular in choosing your script. What made you decide to choose “Ada Hantu”?
Zahiril Adzim: I have previously done a few horror movies. And having done this genre before, we will notice the similarities in the storyline of the previous horror movies. But for this film, for “Ada Hantu”, the first thing that made me decide to participate in this film is the storyline. The storyline that Hairul offered has a plot twist that struck me. Okay, this is it, I want to be a part of the cast. I like the storyline of this film. It does not have the usual horror film plot that we are so used to watch. “Ada Hantu” offered an interesting plot twist that would make people exclaim “Woah”, something like that.
5. What about you guys? How were your experiences under Hairul’s style of directing?
Zahiril Adzim: He (Hairul) has his own vision while directing. He will explain to us clearly how he wanted us to act and he made sure that all the casts understood then we began filming. His style of directing is very calm and gentle and he rarely points out our errors. Sometimes I feel like, did I do it correctly? For me, I’m quite anxious because I’m worried if my performance is not on par with Hairul’s standard. When I asked him, he would usually say that it’s fine. Then when I saw the result on screen, everything was really okay and I am satisfied with the outcome.
Shiqin Kamal: I agree. When he (Hairul) directs or has comments to make, he’s mindful about the directions that he gives and as actors, that was very encouraging for us. When he has comments about our acting, about my performance, he will personally suggest his thoughts. And he did that not in a director’s way, but like we talk to friends. So, we as casts do not feel offended or anything.
Nafiez Zaidi: Like Shiqin said, Hairul is mindful of us and when he wants to suggest anything, he will pull us aside and calmly express his ideas. At least character wise, he did give me a lot of input to truly understand Jimmy’s character. So, we discussed a lot and it was really easy and cool to work with him.
Elvina Chua: I am relatively new compared to other casts, so I felt small and rarely asked for opinion. But with Hairul, he explained how he wanted each character to shine. However, he voiced out his opinion not for it to be the ultimatum, instead, he will explain why he wanted the character to be that way. Hairul was very clear about what he wanted. He knew what his actors were capable of, making for a pleasant experience whilst shooting.
6. How was your role in “Ada Hantu” different from other movies or roles that you have starred in?
Shiqin Kamal: I usually carry dark characters in my previous roles so Bariah’s character is not particularly dark but she is a strong character. She is strong in a good way, not the hated kind. There was not much difference from my previous roles but Bariah is indeed a strong character as she is the mastermind of the group. The character shows a different side of my acting skills.
Nafiez Zaidi: This is my first lead role in the movie, with the other main casts of the film. Jimmy’s character is different from my usual role previously. He has a bit of Korean Oppa, sort of ‘jambu’ vibes. I haven’t taken on this kind of character before this. So, Jimmy, he has a gift. He can sense the supernatural aura in certain areas. When the group goes to any spooky places, Jimmy will be the one to enter the place first, to sense the mystical presence on scene. So, that’s the kind of character he is.
Elvina Chua: Sasha is a happy-go-lucky kind of girl. She cares about her friends, but she is usually occupied with creating content for her followers as an Instafamous. She will always have her phone with her at all times so she can record everything that happens. Despite that, she is very caring of her friends. So, you can watch the development of Sasha’s character from being very bubbly to a caring friend in the film later.
7. Elvina, as a representative of the Chinese community in this film, how do you feel about having more colours and representation in Malaysian movies?
Elvina Chua: When I received the casting call for the role, I thought I was being pranked. I was like, is this for real? I couldn’t believe it at first. This film is something else as it represents Malaysia. It is unique that we can see talent from different backgrounds, different cultures and we come together as one. We communicate in our own ways like family. It was a whole new experience. We also have Indian cast in the film; he also starred in “Paskal”. So we have that one Malaysia vibe.
8. Did any of y’all experience any mystical disturbance or ‘gangguan’ while filming or in real life?
Elvina Chua: Before starring in this film, I have taken the role as a ghost before in dramas and telemovies previously. I have never experienced any supernatural entities, but during filming, there were times when the director suddenly rushed to wrap the shooting quickly for the night. It was so sudden that you could feel that the atmosphere was not good. I do feel the eeriness because sometimes we shoot our scenes at hospitals or cemeteries. It is a challenge and it was a good experience but so far I have never personally encountered any entity face to face or anything like that.
Shiqin Kamal: I have never experienced any disturbance so far. I even prayed so that I would never have to experience the ‘gangguan’ or anything of that sort. I always have a clear mind and set my mind to not even think of any ghosts or supernatural beings while filming. I do believe in ghosts, it’s just that I prefer to have a positive mindset and not indulge myself in disturbing thoughts.
Zahiril Adzim: I think the “Ada Hantu” team was quite lucky and ‘protected’ from all these disturbances excluding this one particular time when I got hurt while filming. During filming, there was this one scene where I needed to kick down the door and jump into the room. So, during rehearsal, everything was set, as in we know the momentum of the jump, where to position myself during the landing and all the calculations have been set. So, when I jumped on the first take, I suddenly felt a force pushing me from behind. So, the calculations were missed when the extra force was applied. So I landed wrongly and sprained my ankle. The team was asking me if I was okay but I didn’t tell them the real story at the time because I’m the one who felt it. So, when we returned to the hotel, I told them what happened but I was still trying to think positively, maybe it was just my imagination. However, a week later, after I finished filming “Ada Hantu”, I went to shoot for a different film at the same location that we filmed the previous scene. And I experienced the disturbance in a more intense way. We were disturbed to the maximum level to the point that the entity made an appearance in front of us. I was filming for another horror movie at the time at the same bungalow, the same location that we had shot “Ada Hantu” and at the time I saw the entity standing behind a crew member. I was in disbelief because while filming “Ada Hantu”, we were fine.
We were gradually ‘disturbed’ starting with the camera suddenly not functioning well, our director’s car windscreen shattered. We tried to keep our heads clear, but the more that we thought positively, the more ‘they’ disturbed us until we finally decided that we can’t continue shooting at the location. During the last of filming, the entity suddenly appeared behind a crew member. At the time one talent was doing makeup as a ghost, so I waited in the living room of the bungalow. I saw an entity very much resembling the talent standing at the stairs behind a crew member. I immediately looked elsewhere and at the time, someone noticed my action. After I was done changing, a crew approached me and asked, “Why did you act that way just now?”. I dismissed the question and he insisted that I answer truthfully. Then he asked me, “Did you see something? Do you see that thing?”. I answered yes and he said, “Bob (Zahiril), I saw it too. The thing was right beside me.” So, it was not only me who noticed the presence of the ghost, everyone else noticed it too. But the thing is, this disturbance is actually quite normal. Our intention is to work and to entertain audiences so we just need to persevere through this challenge.
9. Describe “Ada Hantu” in one word.
Zahiril Adzim: Serious Ah?!
Elvina Chua: Gempak! (Awesome!)
Shiqin Kamal: Interesting!
Nafiez Zaidi: Superb!
Watch the trailer of “Ada Hantu” here:
Get ready to be spooked and indulge in exciting local fare you can’t miss as “Ada Hantu” finally premieres exclusively on Disney+ Hotstar on 13th August.