Is ‘Dukun’ Worth The 12-Year Wait? Here’s Our Spine-Chilling Review

Are you ready to get 12 years’ worth of nightmares?

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Is ‘Dukun’ Worth The 12-Year Wait? Here’s Our Spine-Chilling Review
Images: Astro Shaw
On Monday, it was announced that controversial movie 'Dukun', which was banned for more than a decade, will finally make its way to the silver screen.

The news spread like wildfire on social media, especially with the recent creepy viral footage of a woman clad in a red kebaya spotted walking by the roadside at 3 am. In case you didn't know, the footage was actually a brilliant marketing ploy to launch the long-awaited film.

So, just like any other curious Malaysian who is fascinated with high-profile crime cases and supernatural occurrences, we couldn’t wait to watch 'Dukun'. And on Wednesday, we finally got our wish as we were treated to an early media preview of the movie.

We bravely sat through the one-hour, 48-minute movie to find out if the wait was worth it.

Are you guys ready to watch 'Dukun'?
WARNING: The review will contain some spoilers for ‘Dukun’.

'Dukun' is a thriller-horror movie based on the high-profile case of shaman Mona Fandey, who murdered politcian Datuk Mazlan Idris in 1993. The film was set five years after Mona was sentenced to death on 2 November 2001.

The movie revolves around two main characters – Datin Seri Umie Aida as Diana Dahlan or the dukun, and her lawyer, Karim, played by Faizal Hussein. Adlin Aman Ramlie, on the other hand, plays the victim Dato’ Jeffri.

#1 A Timeless Setting

The moment before all hell breaks loose.
The movie starts off with Diana brimming with joy, all dolled up waiting for her sentence in jail. The movie then provided us with a flashback to decades ago where we were introduced to the key item of this movie – the tongkat sakti which originated from the Batak community in Indonesia.

Then, we were transported to the present where we were introduced to... Dato’ Jeffri’s dismembered body parts. This part made us a bit squirmy because the body parts, especially the detached head, looked so real! If you're not a big fan of gore, you might want to cover your eyes for this bit.

There were a lot of flashbacks used in this movie, but it was so seamless, it fell into place perfectly and the scenes made sense.

But what impressed us the most is the fact that although the movie was filmed 12 years ago, it still looked relevant, as if it was filmed recently.

Even the special effects used for the gory scenes were really realistic, so kudos to whoever had that level of editing skills 12 years ago (seriously, just thinking about the scenes is making us feel nauseous right this moment).

The theme song, "Merana Jiwa", is hauntingly beautiful. It gives us a hint of mystery despite the occasional spine-chilling wailing, and the thrill you get listening to it after being ‘kept’ away from the public for 12 years is, well, pleasant.

So, if you’re watching this movie five years down the road, it may still look relevant and recent.

#2 A Ghastly Dukun You’ll Never Forget

Diana performing a ritual.
When people say that first impressions are crucial, well, Diana Dahlan leaves a life-long impression you won’t soon forget.

She’s not your regular, old, wrinkly dukun with smog covering them wherever they go; she’s very beautiful, seductive, confident, and knows what she wants. Umie Aida really went all out to play a bomoh who would send chills down your spine, and not the good kind. 

How creepy, you ask? Well, how about licking the walls of the Pudu Jail and crawling around her dark cell like one's been possessed? Seriously, the image of her creeping abnormally with a disheveled appearance and wicked look on her face will no doubt haunt you for probably the next 12 years, you know, to make up for lost time.

Still not creepy enough for you? Wait ‘till you watch the scenes where she performs her blood-curdling black magic rituals while reading some spells that no one understands and leaving weird inscribe markings on the floor. That legit gave us the creeps.

And trust us, this isn’t the normal, cringey, try-hard creepy that many local horror films have attempted to do in the past; Umie Aida was truly a class of terror on her own. Just watch the trailer and you’ll understand what we mean:

If there’s anyone who deserves an award for the Best Performance In A Thriller Movie award, it’s definitely Umie Aida. Her portrayal is on par with all the other hantu characters from Thai or Indonesian movies that probably scarred you and gave you nightmares.

And did we mention that she looks like she hasn’t aged a day since filming the movie 12 years ago? Girl, you’ve got to drop your skincare routine ASAP.

#3 Fact or Fiction?

One could only imagine how the actual interrogation took place.
Since a lot of people out there know that 'Dukun' was inspired by the gruesome Mona Fandey case, many of you might have high expectations for this movie. Our advice? It’s best to watch it with an open mind and have low-expectations to really enjoy it.

Obviously, it’s not possible to portray the movie 100 per cent according to the facts from the case, or else there would be a throng of possible lawsuits awaiting the director and production company.

Of course, you can still find some prominent points from the case portrayed in the movie, such as how Dato’ Jeffri was murdered and the gruesome details about his dismembered body parts, but the director changed some of the facts for the movie.

For example, in 'Dukun', Diana operates with the help of his two henchmen Danni (Hasnul Rahmat) who looks like he hasn't showered in ages and Fadzli (Sofi Jikan), whose character we felt was inspired by Juraimi, Mona Fandey’s real life assistant who was also convicted and sentenced to death. No husband role was seen in this movie.

Also, in the movie, Dato' Jeffri is portrayed as a businessman, not a politician.

The changes in the movie provided a little bit of originality to the story telling, but you will not be disappointed if you came for Mona Fandey.

#4 The Lawyer And The Harrowing Plot Twist

Faizal Hussein's character as a successful lawyer and failing father played a pivotal role in 'Dukun'.
Faizal Hussein plays Karim, an honest man who tried to juggle between his career as a lawyer and a father to his problematic daughter, Nadia (Elyana).

He was assigned as Diana’s lawyer through the volunteer system, and boy, did he put up a fight trying to defend Diana's innocence.

In court, he managed to question witnesses including investigators to the point that they couldn't prove that Diana had indeed planned the whole hair-raising crime or even had the intention to murder Dato' Jeffri despite finding evidences in her house.

However, despite his great performance in court, he fails to be a good father to Nadia who ran away from home after a fall out. Somehow, Diana mysteriously knows about Karim's drama at home and offers to help him find his daughter in exchange for her makeup items and also retrieve ‘something’ from her house to be used in one of her scary rituals.

Diana and her signature red lipstick.
What came next was a series of plot twists that would make you go, "WTF just happened?". It will leave you in disbelief but it'll help you solve the missing puzzle. We won't spoil it for you, but  you’ve just got to watch it for yourself to believe it.

Ultimately, we like how Faizal carried his role to perfection. During the times he appeared on screen with Umie Aida, he managed to hold his own, playing the good to Umie's wickedly evil. 

And because Umie was so, so good in this movie, matching her performance is no small feat but Faizal managed to do it. 


Diana donning her iconic red kebaya for a court hearing.
So, was it worth the 12-year wait? Honestly, yes! Just like the movie's tagline: 'Akhirnya kita bertemu'. 

Regardless of the initial ban, let’s just view this movie as a lost treasure, or one of those great local movies that was preserved until the right time comes – which is now.

It’s compelling, it creeps you out and it gets you on the edge of your seats. The movie managed to make us turn away and squirm in disgust during some of the gory parts.

Oh, and we have to talk about the great theme song performed beautifully by both Umie Aida and Elyana that effortlessly compliments the whole movie. The tune is so catchy, we had trouble getting it out of our heads, even as we were about to fall asleep.

Elyana as Nadia, Karim's daughter.
The cast members' performances were absolutely stellar and the fact that the movie was able to withstand the test of time makes it one of the best local movies ever produced. We strongly feel that there should be a sequel.

And in case you were wondering, yes; it's better than 'Badang'.

But horror-seekers be warned; Dain Said’s masterpiece isn’t really a hantu horror movie, so don’t go expecting ghosts flying here and there as it is more of a crime and thriller genre. Just thought you guys should know that.

Final score: ★★★★☆ 

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