Malaysian filmmaker Remus Mook seems to be a fan of murder mysteries and psychological thrillers, and of course, pop culture.
His directorial debut movie When Geek Meets Serial Killer (2015) was a dark crime comedy adapted from his Hong Kong co-director Eric Cheng’s best-selling manga Wolf And Mary. It even made the official selection of the 34th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, which features horror, thriller and science fiction films.
This time around, Mook’s latest movie The Perfect Girl is adapted from Tsung Yeh Ling’s popular Taiwanese web novel of the same name.
Mook recently held a media conference with movie producer Angus Liu and Taiwanese Mandopop singer Tia Lee, who plays the titular character. Also there was Taiwanese actor Ray Chang (formerly known as Bryant Chang).
Chang, who starred in Mook’s 2015 directorial effort, is best known for his role in Leste Chen’s coming-of-age flick Eternal Summer (2006). The film won him the Best New Performer Award at Taiwan’s 43rd Golden Horse Awards. Meanwhile, Lee is often dubbed Little Vivian due to her uncanny resemblance to Taiwanese singer-actress Vivian Hsu.
In The Perfect Girl, Lee plays Ye Xin, a top student in criminal psychology, while Chang portrays her boyfriend, a forensic specialist, whose former girlfriends have all disappeared without a trace.
When human bones are discovered in the backyard of Ye Xin’s old family home, the couple find themselves entangled in a bizarre murder mystery.
Mook, 40, recalled his initial concerns about the original story. A girl develops multiple personality disorder when she tries to assimilate the characteristics of her boyfriend’s exes by killing them.
“The first time I saw it on Facebook, I really liked it a lot. So I bought the rights to film it on impulse. But after reading the whole novel, I began to regret my purchase. I realised it was not easy to adapt it to film,” he explained.
“But since we had already taken up the project, I had to carry on with it. I still had not figured out how to make the movie and I truly did not know how to begin. Even by the time I got my cast, the script had not been completed yet.”
Casting Chang again as the male lead was Mook’s way of repaying the young actor for helping him make his first movie.
“I gave his character kissing and bedroom scenes with every single one of his girlfriends in the movie!” joked Mook.
As for Lee, Mook said he was very thankful for her patience. “She was under a lot of pressure when we were filming, because she basically had no idea what to make of her character, as I kept improvising and changing,” he said.
“The ending of our movie was only decided upon during the final week of filming. I did not like what we had initially planned, so I turned to a short film I saw online.
“I adapted the story and made it the ending of my movie. I could already imagine how I wanted to use the footage (and edit it).”
Mook, who was satisfied with the way the movie turned out, added that he plans to put the movie online, as he considers the Internet audience to be very important as well.
The only setback for Mook were the cuts warranted by the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF).
“In total, it’s not more than one minute. It may be only a few seconds here and there, but it all adds up. I discovered that in Malaysia, even kissing scenes are not allowed. I was quite surprised. Next time, I will have to be more careful, and not include too many kissing scenes!” he said.
“A significant portion of my budget was spent on making head moulds in order to show the blood spurting out. But that was all cut out. Next time, I must think carefully before spending my budget on all these things.”
The Perfect Girl, which took one year to make, is Mook’s take on the dangers of multiple personality disorders.
“I feel we have to show more concern to patients with mental disorders. I hope that people can understand through this movie, what goes on in the mind of a mentally ill person,” he said.