Misteri Dilaila (2019) Review

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the high-profile release of Syafiq Yusof’s latest horror-thriller in Misteri Dilaila, particularly the heavily-promoted and much talked-about plot twist in the movie. This naturally got me interested to check out the movie since it’s not every day we have a locally-made production that has a story filled with unexpected twists and turns. And for that alone, I’m glad that Syafiq did quite a good job in the storytelling department.

But before I dig deeper into the review, here is what Misteri Dilaila basically all about: The movie follows a married couple (Zul Ariffin’s Jefri and Elizabeth Tan’s Dilaila), who both spending their holiday together at a luxury vacation home in Fraser’s Hill. After a petty issue where they end up quarrelling at each other, Jefri discovers his wife went missing the following morning. Next thing he knows, a mysterious woman (Sasqia Dahuri) who also goes by the name of Dilaila shows up one night where she claims to be his wife. Adding more confusion is the supernatural occurrences that regularly haunts Jefri whenever he’s alone in the house.

Clocking at a lean 82 minutes, Syafiq wastes little time in establishing his plot from the get-go. He smartly employs a crafty blend of red herrings and misdirections, filling his tightly-woven storyline with twist after twist that keeps you guessing as the movie progresses along. Even the portrayals of most characters in this movie are not what they seem, making them all the more interesting to watch for.

Speaking of twists, this is where Syafiq excels the most. I have to admit it’s kind of deceptively clever the way he eventually revealed the whole big picture. And personally, I didn’t see it coming either.

As much as I enjoyed most of the twists that occurred throughout the movie, Syafiq gets a little overwhelmed in some key scenes. One of them happens to baffle me the most. It’s like as if he’s trying too hard to impress his viewers with his twisty storytelling technique, only to leave you feeling more frustrated than being intrigued. Some other scenes tend to be unintentionally laughable as well and it doesn’t help when Zul Ariffin has a penchant for overacting in certain moments.

The horror elements, which is supposedly one of the movie’s major selling points, turns out to be the weakest link. Here, Syafiq relies heavily on jump scares that only gets increasingly annoying. It basically ruins the movie-watching experience. Frankly, he could have done better by reducing or eliminating these awfully-distracting cheap horror tactics altogether and opt for a more psychological approach instead. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if (most of) our local audiences here are more interested in jump scares (read: it helps to sell more tickets).

As for the cast, most of them are decent enough with their respective roles. And if I would have to single them out, Sasqia Dahuri — who mostly appeared in local TV dramas — deserves a special mention here for her breakthrough lead performance as the other Dilaila.

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