Director Syafiq Yusof explores the haunted bungalow in his latest film.

When Mohamad Izzat Izzudin Hussin was reported missing in November 2013, it became a case that fascinated the nation. According to statements from his friends, the 16-year-old student entered an abandoned bungalow at Danga Bay in Johor Baru and didn’t come out. The bungalow was the infamous Villa Nabila, which is listed under as one of the most haunted places in Malaysia. The Twittersphere was abuzz with theories – one of it was that Izzat’s disappearance had something to do with supernatural forces.

A day after Izzat much talked-about disappearance, it came to light that the teenager was actually at his girlfriend’s house. Apparently, he forgot to inform his mother that he’d be spending the night elsewhere after exploring Villa Nabila.

Although nothing came out of Izzat’s misadventure, the house remains an attraction for horror seekers.

It’s little wonder then, two independent filmmakers – Daniel Martin and Rosalli Azrin – chose Villa Nabila as the subject of their documentary. Last year, they approached director Syafiq Yusof about their work.

“The documentary starts with the case of the missing boy in 2013. While we all knew his story through what was reported in the media, there were other unpublished aspects that intrigued me,” said Syafiq during a recent interview.

In the documentary, Daniel and Rosalli also interviewed construction workers who were tasked to tear down Villa Nabila. Through these interviews, Daniel and Rosalli learned that the workers experienced strange phenomenons at the empty bungalow. So much so, the initial task to tear the bungalow was never completed. Perhaps there was more to what really happened to Izzat when he entered Villa Nabila?

That thought and the documentary struck a nerve with Syafiq. Using footages from the documentary – which was never released to mainstream audience – the 22-year-old director made an experimental movie about Villa Nabila. Due for release today, Villa Nabila stars Pekin Ibrahim and Tisya Shamsir. It also features reenactments of the strange phenomenons that happened within the abandoned house.

Off the wall: Pekin (centre) stars as a contractor who experiences mysterious phenomenons while tearing down an abandoned bungalow in Villa Nabila.

“We shot on location for two weeks. The initial plan was to shoot the film in Kuala Lumpur, but then I went to see the bungalow in Johor Baru and told myself, ‘there’s no way I can recreate the eeriness of this house in KL.’ ”

Syafiq – who is Datuk Yusof Haslam’s son and director Syamsul Yusof’s younger brother – shared that he didn’t experience any paranormal incidents on location, but that some of the cast members crew had strange things happen to them.

“There were accidents that occurred close to where the house is, but I didn’t think much of it. It was on a highway therefore I think accidents were bound to happen. I was just surprised that the house was not that hard to find!”

Syafiq hopes the audience will form their own conclusion about the mystery behind Villa Nabila after watching the film.

Draw your own conclusions from the film says Syafiq. 

“I can promise that even though the film was shot on a low-budget, it feels like a multi-million dollar fare,” he said.

Based on his track record so far, Syafiq certainly knows a thing or two about making films that are in the vicinity of million dollars.

His directorial debut SAM, released in 2012, grossed over RM1.88mil at the box-office. Last year, his KL Gangster spin-off Abang Long Fadil made RM4.6mil. Guess only supernatural forces can stop Villa Nabila from generating that kind of box-office income too.

Villa Nabila opens in cinemas nationwide today. 


A scene from Puaka Balai Gombak.

More local horror movie based on places due for release this year.

Besides Syafiq Yusof’s Villa Nabila, there are other horror movies based on places due for release this year. Feel free to check into some of these places.

Puaka Balai Gombak (Jan 29)

A group of paranormal investigators decide to investigate an abandoned police station in Gombak. Hilarity does not ensue.

Bangunan (Feb 5)

One random interview leads a group of friends to explore a mysterious building. Starring Khir Rahman and Sein Qudsi.

Gudang Kubur (Feb 12)

Faizal Hussein and Nora Danish star as a married couple who acquire a warehouse. When the couple begins to experience supernatural disturbances at their home, all signs lead to the creepy warehouse.