Actress Vanidah Imran drew from an intensely personal moment in her life to portray her latest role in local horror flick Till Death: Azalea’s Wrath.
“I nearly went through postnatal depression after giving birth to my first child,” the 46-year-old mother of two reveals.
“Once, I remember my father walking into the room and he asked me, ‘Why are you crying? Are you in pain?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not.’
“He asked again, ‘Then why are you crying?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I just feel so sad’.”
Vanidah recalls feeling physically and emotionally exhausted: “You wake up every hour to feed the child, you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t have a life other than being confined into a room, and that stresses you.”
She adds that a lot of people tend to brush off postnatal blues due to a lack of awareness.
“Postnatal blues during confinement is real. A lot of people don’t understand this. If you hear a women going through postnatal blues, you think, ‘Oh she’s weak.’ It’s not that, it’s all these hormonal changes that one goes through and you can’t even explain it.
“Ever since then, whenever I hear my friends who have just given birth say they feel lonely, I tell them to call me if they need to talk. Sometimes that’s what you need,” she says.
Vanidah also opens up about the pain of losing a baby when she was two-and-a-half months along.
“It was still very, very small. But there was that feeling of loss. So I used these life experiences to shape my character, Suraya.”
Vanidah was speaking to the local media during a press event promoting Till Death: Azalea’s Wrath.
In the Sein Qudsi-directed film, couple Azman (Khir Rahman) and Suraya (Vanidah) are still reeling from the loss of their baby. They decide to move to a new home to start afresh. But there’s more than meets the eye to their new premise, as Suraya begins to experience strange, inexplicable occurrences.
Sein shares the inspiration behind the film is rooted in reality. “I know of a couple who experienced the loss of their baby at birth. It’s very hard, especially for the mother. She carried the baby for nine months.
“I saw the support she received from her family. And I saw what she had to go through to get back to everyday life, and I wanted to tell all these in the film.
“So mothers are really a central theme in the film,” the director says.
Sein adds he felt it was important to prioritise the film’s story, and letting the horror element take a backseat.
“A lot of horror films in Malaysia focus on the horror and then the story comes second. That’s not wrong. I just wanted to do it the other way around, focusing on the story and then the horror comes in.”
Till Death: Azalea’s Wrath, in Bahasa Malaysia, is the first local film to premiere exclusively on Netflix.
The director shares he had shot the film already and was in the process of looking for ways to distribute it. He then contacted actor/producer Bront Palarae (whose film Crossroads: One Two Jaga is on Netflix) who pointed him to people he could speak to at Netflix.
Asked if the process of getting his film on the American streaming giant was difficult, Sein responds: “Surprisingly, no. I shot an email to Netflix. Then they told us they wanted to preview the film. So we showed it to them. And they made me an offer. It was very fast. The whole process took only about two months.”
Sein shares the feedback he received from Netflix executives about the film: “There are other Malaysian horror films on Netflix but they felt my treatment of a horror film was different, and they would like to have a variety of treatments of Malaysian horror films in their catalogue.”
Till Death: Azalea’s Wrath is now available on Netflix.