In a radical shift from the artsy DV fare he’s best known for, prolific Malaysian multihyphenate James Lee (“Room to Let,” “Waiting for Love”) shows an aptitude for mainstream horror with “Histeria.” Bankrolled by commercial production house Tanyan Unggul, this yarn about a group of giggling schoolgirls invoking a bloodthirsty demon has some nice character touches and delivers decent chills. Lee’s first 35mm production looks good and stands to gain much wider DVD exposure than most of his other works.
Setting is a posh girls’ school where Murni (Liyana Jasmay) and her five brainy pals (“The Pink Ladies”) are given a three-day detention after faking a case of demonic possession. Occupying an abandoned and supposedly haunted dormitory, the girls awaken a slimy beast after reciting a mantra found on the Internet. Heavy on blood and lighter on gore, the body count is efficiently executed and enlivened by intriguing dramatics involving lesbian student Zeta (Rianna) and sleazy teacher Mr. Helmi (Ady Putra). Perfs by the mostly inexperienced young femme cast are fine. Traditional strings-and-piano score suits the mood, and the rest of the tech work is solid on a modest budget.