Director Isma Yusoof was a big fan on the cult horror movie Blok 404 which was released on VCD in 2001. So, he was thrilled when given the opportunity to helm the remake of the film which tells the story of a group of students squaring off against a serial killer.
“I remember watching Blok 404 as a student. For the remake, I didn’t want to be influenced by the original. I decide to go with a fresh approach. But of course, I need to retain and expand on the thrilling elements that made the movie so popular in the first place,” he said during an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Isma’s Blok 404 follows a trio (played by Nadia Brian, Amar Asyraf and Datuk Boy Iman) who decide to spend a night at an isolated villa named Guesthouse 404. What follows is night of endless terror as the trio and everyone else at the villa end up getting stalked by a masked murderer.
While it’s expected for Blok 404 to feature some gory scenes, Isma decided to push the envelope further by including sleazy characters engaging in all sorts of sordid affair. There’s even some drugs and alcohol in the mix.
“Why not? I’m showing aspects of reality here. Do you think people only do drugs and other bad things in a dark alley? In real life, people get up to no good everywhere,” he said.
Isma feels local filmmakers should not be scared to take risk when it comes to telling stories.
“We have to show the viewers on what is really happening in our society. I think it’s time we stop ignoring real social issues that are affecting our people,” he added.
The outspoken director also said that Blok 404 is more than just a provocative slasher flick.
“I have to admit that I’m using sexy scenes and gore to lure audience into the cinema. Those elements are just like dedak (bait). But the film has commentary on our obsession with social media and lack of civic-mindedness.”
Even with all these scenes, Isma maintained that he followed the guidelines set by the Film Censorship Board (LPF). Blok 404 has been approved for screening with an 18 rating. While filming, Isma did try his luck in a particular scene just to see if he could get away with some of LPF’s restrictions.
“I got the make-up and prop department to prepare an actress for a scene where her head get cut off. They told me it would not be approved by LPF. But I insisted that we should try our luck.”
True enough, that scene did not make the final cut. But Isma has no regrets: “At least we tried. We shot multiple death scenes for that actress and in the end, we just went with what LPF approved.
“Apart from that, we just had to mute a few words, blur some items and remove one bedroom scene. I have to say I’m surprised that they didn’t ask us to take out more,” he said.