When actress Hannah Delisha read the script for Langsuir, she said it reminded her of the film Twilight as both are – at its core – a love story between a human and a supernatural creature.
“It read like a fantasy to me, with elements of romance and horror,” said the 21-year-old Singaporean, who is also a recording artiste. She plays the titular mythical creature in the film.
According to Malay folklore, langsuir – a close cousin of pontianak – is a spirit of a woman who died while giving birth, with the baby also dying in the process. She is then cursed to roam the earth as a langsuir and is said to have deformed features, with long sharp fingernails. However, if a nail is hammered into her head, a langsuir will turn into a beautiful woman.
Director Osman Ali – who helmed horror Puaka Tebing Biru (2007) as well as psychological thriller Juwanita (2015) – was intrigued by the tales about langsuir when he heard stories of it when he was small.
He elaborated: “That story about a langsuir becoming a beautiful woman has stayed in my mind for a long time. I had always wanted to make a horror movie that explores relationships and insert elements from classic Malay horror films.
“I did a lot of research before writing the script and discovered new things like langsuir flies upwards and that they appear by fishermen’s boats.
“I also learned during my research that unlike pontianak, where you hammer the nail at the base of the neck, for langsuir the nail has to go in at the top of the head.
“From my research too, langsuir is said to live for generations, so I thought they’d be talking in classic Malay,” he reasoned when asked why the actresses playing the supernatural creatures in his film have dialogues in classic Malay.
Langsuir kicks off with a bunch of rowdy men who are at a remote island for a short holiday. Although the island is beautiful, no one lives there as it is rumoured to be home to langsuir and demonic spirits.
These men are determined to have a good time there. Unfortunately, one of them – Zaman (Firdaus Nadzaman) – thinks a good time means hunting down a langsuir and planting a nail down her head, so that he can fool around with her. Meanwhile, Azlan (Syafiq Kyle) is hypnotised by a langsuir named Suri (Hannah) to fall in love with her at first sight.
Zaman manages to carry out his mission, and the langsuir is none other than Suri. His action angers not only Azlan, but Suri’s older sister (Julia Farhana), who sets out for revenge.
Osman and his crew filmed in Langkawi for almost a month, capturing scenic landscape as the drama unfolds. Some of the locations he chose include Gua Langsir, Gua Tembus, Pantai Talam Dua Muka and Teluk Datai.
Actor Firdaus recalled the shoot was challenging because of the erratic weather. “We were expecting sunny weather, but it turned out to be gloomy, and all the scenes were set outdoors,” Firdaus said.
The director agreed filming Langsuir was difficult especially in the caves where there were many rock formations, which made it hard for the crew to manage the cameras and other equipment. Filming in a small tent and on the boat was also difficult, Osman shared.
“I tried to get the visual closest to what I imagined,” said Osman. “Filming at night was also challenging, as we had to figure out the lighting. This took longer than I expected.”
Despite all the challenges, the director and cast are hopeful that audiences will check out the film in line with the successes of Munafik 2 and Hantu Kak Limah.
“I hope people will become interested in this legend after watching Langsuir,” Osman noted.