Review: ‘Mirror’

"Mirror" is a timely reminder that there's more to Malay cinema than the tedious, minimalist portraits of contemporary anomie that fill most fests.

“Mirror” is a timely reminder that there’s more to Malay cinema than the tedious, minimalist portraits of contemporary anomie that fill most fests. Gracefully mounted ghost yarn by first-time writer-director Zarina Abdullah is solidly Southeast Asian in vibe — closer to Thai and Vietnamese items than Korean or Japanese — with atmosphere and family values at the forefront. Theatrical chances are slim beyond fests, but ethno-centered webs could give “Mirror” a spin.

Pretty, soon-to-be-married Nasrin Aziz (newcomer Natasha Hudson) crashes her car when she sees a ghost in her rear-view mirror, and wakes up in hospital with an ugly red scar on her cheek. Flashbacks limn her relationship with Yusuf (Farid Kamil), with whom traumatized Nasrin now breaks off her engagement. Seems she’s haunted by her great-great-grandfather’s barren first wife, Mastura (Deanna Yusoff), whose vengeful spirit — after being passed over for another woman — is trapped in a mirror and wants to take over Nasrin’s body to escape. Largely set in a big, traditional Malay house, attractively lensed by d.p. Roszali Samad, pic holds its horror cards close to its chest until the powerful, blood-soaked final exorcism.

Mirror

Malaysia

Production

A Starry Eye Prods. production. Executive producer, Ummi Khaltoum Abdullah. Directed, written, edited by Zarina Abdullah.

Crew

Camera (color), Roszali Samad; music, Adeline Wong; art director, Andy Sulaiman; costume designer, Adnan Rahman. Reviewed at PiFan Film Festival, South Korea, July 18, 2007. (Also in Far East Film Festival, Udine.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Deanna Yusoff, Natasha Hudson, Khatijah Tan, Farid Kamil, Maimon Taib, Sheila Mambo, Farah Ahmad, Soffi Jikan, Haryanto Hassan, Lisdawati, Ghazali Abu Noh, Catriona Ross, Mustapha Maarof, M. Rajoli, Fauziah Nawi.
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